Israeli intimidation of John Kerry

Israel intimidating John Kerry

By Jamal Kanj

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon articulated publicly what Israeli leaders say privately regarding the USA: give us your tax money, weapons and your veto power but “leave us alone”.

He called the US peace efforts “not worth the paper it is printed on”, and accused US Secretary of State John Kerry of being a glory hound, “messianic” and “inexplicably obsessive”.

His statement  likely made with the tacit approval of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu  was quintessential Israeli tactics to publicly influence American policy, and it did.

Israeli bullying and willful obstruction

Receiving the message loud and clear, Kerry cancelled a visit scheduled this week to the region. Failing to commit the Israelis on a written framework agreement, his aides are already talking about extending the negotiation past the April deadline.

Each of Kerry’s visits was greeted by an Israeli policy decision to undermine his efforts. Since last July Israel has authorized building 7,500 Jews-only homes on the occupied West Bank and demolished 200 Palestinian residences. A ministerial committee led by the governing Likud party has overwhelmingly voted to annex the occupied Jordan Valley.

Still, the administration wants to give Israel more time to add to its annexation’s menu. This is while it ludicrously claims to be impartial mediator when it empowers Israel, materially and diplomatically, to indulge in activities violating international law.

If one thing is very clear from past American diplomacy, it is that the current efforts will most likely deliver on Israeli demands upfront, while suspending the Palestinians’ concerns for a later date. At the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993, the Palestine Liberation Organization recognized Israel in 78 per cent of historical Palestine while Palestinians were promised to negotiate a “five-year transitional period” for the remaining 22 per cent.

History of appeasement

Almost 10 years later, President George W. Bush’s roadmap for peace called for “permanent status agreement” by 2005. To address one of Israel’s 14 reservations, Bush sent then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a letter adopting one Israeli reservation – and thereby undermining his own plan  stating it would be “unrealistic… of final status negotiations” to result in the return to the 1967 borders.

At the roadmap’s onset, Israel “legitimized” its illegal Jews-only colonies, while Palestinians were promised an elusive future “agreement by 2005”.

During Kerry’s most recent visit, the Israeli prime minister privately stated Israel’s wish to annex an additional 18 per cent of the West Bank as a “realistic” adjustment to the 1967 borders. Kerry, violating the mediator’s role, has told the Palestinians that recognizing Israel as a racialist Jews-only state was an American demand. Imagine if he publicly opined that compliance with UN resolutions were the bases of his impending framework. Israel will certainly cry louder accusing him of prejudging the negotiation.

Years after Kerry delivers another advanced installment or extends the endless negotiations, Israel is unlikely to have ceased building illegal colonies. Meanwhile, the overdue promises to Palestinians will join the cemetery, along with those of the Oslo accords and the roadmap. That is, until a new US administration comes up with a fresh proposal requesting Palestinians, again, to comply with a yet-to-be-conjured Israeli condition in return for further suspended promises.

Time to make a stand

Sadly, the Palestinian government is almost totally dependent on US and European largess  a fraction of what Arab governments spend on the fratricide in Syria…

The Palestinian leadership should not regurgitate a new xenophobic recognition of Israel in exchange for another American mirage. They should not entertain extending the amaranthine negotiation, but should demand instead an immediate US recognition of Palestine  or else a binational state is the only remaining realistic option.

A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News. The version here is published by permission of Jamal Kanj.

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