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John Kerry’s peace process: Dead on arrival

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Secretary of State John Kerry’s renewed efforts at a peace process has little chance of succeeding. Above, Kerry greets an Israeli official before wreath-laying ceremony marking Israel’s annual day of Holocaust remembrance, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, April 8, 2013.(Photo: Reuters)

Israeli government officials and Palestinian Authority negotiators are reportedly set to meet in Washington, D.C. for the first time since 2010 next Tuesday. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has already made it crystal clear that the peace process is going nowhere fast.

Two announcements from the Israeli government today expose Netanyahu’s refusal to seriously consider a viable Palestinian state–the stated end goal of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Haaretz‘s Barak Ravid reports that Netanyahu informed Secretary of State John Kerry that Israel would issue new building tenders for 1,000 housing units in the occupied West Bank during the negotiations. Meanwhile, an Israeli official close to Netanyahu said that Jerusalem would not be divided.

The announcement for the tenders will reportedly take place on Sunday at the same time that Netanyahu announces the release of 82 Palestinian prisoners in a gesture to get the Palestinian Authority to the negotiating table.

While tenders for 1,000 housing units is nothing compared to the floodgate of new settlement announcements and construction Netanyahu has presided over, the devil is in the details. A few hundred tenders will be issued for the large settlement blocs–including the settlement of Ariel. That specific settlement is a major sticking point for Palestinian negotiators–and rightly so, given its location deep into the West Bank and on top of a major water aquifer.

The plans to issue tenders for Ariel is just the latest indication that Israel has no intention on ever evacuating the illegal settlement. Netanyahu himself said in 2010 that “Ariel, the capital of Samaria (the northern West Bank), will be an integral, inseparable part of the state of Israel in any future arrangement.” Ariel, which juts deep into the West Bank, is a settlement that blocks the contiguity of the West Bank.  It’s also been a major source of dispute in past negotiations, as the Palestine Papers reveal. The PA negotiators can swallow a lot–but letting Israel annex Ariel is a step too far even for them.

The reports that Ariel will continue to be built up were published as Yuval Steinitz, a Likud minister, reportedly said that the “status quo was the only option” on the issue of Jerusalem, according to The Telegraph (UK). +972 Magazine’s Mairav Zonszein explains why this shows Israel’s lack of seriousness on a Palestinian state:

If the status quo is the only option, that means East Jerusalem will continue to be occupied and annexed by Israel, which means it cannot be the capital of a future Palestinian state, which means there will be no Palestinian state because Palestinians will not agree to a state without East Jerusalem as its capital, which means there won’t be a two-state solution. (Don’t let Israel’s promise to release 82 Palestinian prisoners fool you as a goodwill gesture. Israel has released prisoners before, and then re-arrested them soon thereafter.)

So to me, Steinitz exposed in this interview that Israel is not actually ready for a two-state solution, since his definition is unrealistic and unjust. With talks (about talking) set to resume on Tuesday – Steinitz’s words are a good barometer of Netanyahu’s position. And considering that Netanyahu won’t even agree to freeze settlement construction during peace talks, even the most optimistic of analysts should be well aware that there is nothing genuine about Israel’s position as it enters “negotiations.”

In yet another indication of Israel’s intentions on Jerusalem, the government has reportedly begun implementing a policy requiring city residents–including Israelis, according to Jerusalem expert Daniel Seidemann—to renew their Jerusalem ID cards every ten years, though it’s unlikely Israeli residents have much to fear. Palestinian rights campaigners have condemned the move. Previously, Jerusalem ID cards had no expiration dates. But since July, Palestinians have begun receiving IDs with a 10-year limit, according to the International Campaign to Protect Palestinian Residency in Jerusalem.

Forcing Palestinians to go to the Ministry of Interior to renew ID cards raises fears Jerusalem residency rights could be stripped. The ministry requires Palestinians living in Jerusalem–labeled as “permanent residents”–to prove that the city is their “center of life.” If they can’t prove it under an onerous process, their right to live in the city could be stripped. Since 1967, over 14,000 Palestinians in the city have had their residency rights revoked–part of a strategy to ensure a Jewish majority throughout Jerusalem and push Palestinians into the West Bank.

So on Tuesday, you can expect a lot of handshakes and photo-ops in D.C. What you shouldn’t expect, though, is peace talks that will lead to a Palestinian state, especially a state with Jerusalem as its capital. Netanyahu’s government has shown that is not in the cards.

Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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57 Responses

  1. simonsj on July 26, 2013, 12:53 pm

    Equally significant of Netanyahu’s intentions and bad faith regarding these negotiations is Security Minister Ya’alon’s decision to cease cooperation with EU diplomats and projects in Area C of the West Bank. Creeping annexation of Area C defines the borders of the Palestinian state Netanyahu might accept as little more than Areas A and B.

  2. Citizen on July 26, 2013, 12:58 pm

    It’s disgusting. Obama/Kerry are merely building a resume based on peace process charade to seduce rich Zionist donors to fund Obama’s library & books, speaking tours post-POTUS. Both Obama and Kerry are taking their memos from Clinton’s crap.

  3. mondonut on July 26, 2013, 12:58 pm

    …which means there will be no Palestinian state because Palestinians will not agree to a state without East Jerusalem as its capital, which means there won’t be a two-state solution.

    This shows the Palestinians lack of seriousness on a Palestinian state. If with all things being equal the Palestinians would turn down a state without Jerusalem, then its doubtful that a state is their goal.

    • talknic on July 26, 2013, 2:08 pm

      mondonut “This shows the Palestinians lack of seriousness on a Palestinian state.”

      Why? It’s Arab territory… read UNSC res 476 for once in your life… are you too afraid? Or not allowed?

      • mondonut on July 27, 2013, 2:05 pm

        talknic says: Why? It’s Arab territory… read UNSC res 476 for once in your life… are you too afraid? Or not allowed?
        It was nominally considered Arab territory, the UN never declared it property of the State of Palestine. Another nice distraction though, the question was why the Palestinians would choose no territory at all for their “state” if they could not have the majority Jewish city of Jerusalem.

    • Sin Nombre on July 26, 2013, 2:12 pm

      mondonut wrote:

      “If with all things being equal the Palestinians would turn down a state without Jerusalem, then its doubtful that a state is their goal.”

      But, we are presumably meant to believe, the precise opposite means nothing negative whatsoever about Israeli/jewish motivations.

      I.e., that if, with all things being equal, the Israelis would turn down peace w/o Jerusalem, of *course* this *doesn’t* mean that peace isn’t really Israel’s goal. Of *course* it doesn’t. Not even worth mentioning.

      So how does that work anyway? For some reason we all just gotta accept that if anyone else does X they have conclusively shown their knavery, whereas if Israel or jews do X of course one must simply accept the innocence and purity of their motives?

      Oh that’s right, my blood not having earned me that trump card I forgot! That “chosenness” business…

      As I’ve said before, the two fundamental plinths of virtually all the argumentation: The double standard, and the charges of anti-semitism.

      • mondonut on July 27, 2013, 2:10 pm

        Sin Nombre says: But, we are presumably meant to believe, the precise opposite means nothing negative whatsoever about Israeli/jewish motivations.
        Are you serious? The essay above puts the blame on the Israelis. As does nearly everything ever written about the status of Jerusalem.

    • Dutch on July 26, 2013, 3:34 pm

      @ mondonut

      You’re wrong and you know it. Ask your Israeli friends if the are willing to abandon West Jerusalem for peace. No? So they don’t want peace!

      • mondonut on July 27, 2013, 2:07 pm

        Dutch says:You’re wrong and you know it. Ask your Israeli friends if the are willing to abandon West Jerusalem for peace. No? So they don’t want peace!
        Try to stay on subject, peace was not the subject, territory was. And for the record the Israelis do not need the Palestinians to have territory, they already have it.

  4. Citizen on July 26, 2013, 1:13 pm

    Meanwhile, Dick and Jane are trolling for shoes and handbags at the Shopping center, or analyzing with microscopes the latest sports scores.

  5. James Canning on July 26, 2013, 2:10 pm

    “As Israel might have learnt, the one thing that does not bring peace is war. So Mr Kerry is right. We should cheer him on.”
    – – Philip Stephens, in the Financial Times July 26th.

  6. James Canning on July 26, 2013, 2:14 pm

    I agree Netanyahu does not want a Palestinian state. And he appears to think the Israel lobby will prevent one from coming into existence.

  7. BillM on July 26, 2013, 2:19 pm

    What’s the problem? Netanyahu’s “good cop” Yuval Steinitz says Israel is ready to make “serious concessions” (specifically excluding the settlements, Jerusalem, and the Right of Return).

    Meanwhile, mouthpeice for the Obama Administration David Ignatius catalogues all of Kerry’s successes so far:

    – Abandoning the 1967 borders starting point (“On borders, Kerry favors the standard U.S. formula of “1967  lines, plus swaps.” But there’s no Israeli agreement yet on that framework, so the negotiations will stress the boundaries of the new state, as opposed to the old lines.”)
    – Guaranteeing the settlement blocks (” The Palestinians appear ready to allow Israel to keep big settlement blocks just north and south of Jerusalem”)
    – Avoiding any international Palestinian action (“The Palestinians, in exchange, have agreed to forgo for at least six months playing their trump card, which is taking statehood to the United Nations,”)
    – Making any borders contingent on Israel’s definition of security (“they will first address the interlocking issues of the Palestinian state’s borders and the security of Israel after the state is created.”)

    With successes like that and Israel being so open to compromise, how can you be so down?

  8. Justpassingby on July 26, 2013, 2:27 pm

    What talks?

    Israel rule out talks on: Jerusalem, Right to return, ending settlements.

    Kerry makes a fool of himself.

  9. Taxi on July 26, 2013, 3:33 pm

    The headline is inaccurate. Kerry owns no “peace”, but he is certainly owned.

    The headline should be: America and Israel Do The Tango While Abbas shines their shoes. Again.

  10. grandpont on July 26, 2013, 3:54 pm

    As I have often said, when Palestinians makes a proposal that Israel finds unacceptable, this proves the Palestinians are being unreasonable. Whereas when Israel makes a proposal that the Palestinians find unacceptable, this proves – that the Palestinians are being unreasonable.

  11. HarryLaw on July 26, 2013, 4:21 pm

    The US/Israel are not fools, negotiations without preconditions are what Netanyahu insisted on i.e. no 67 lines as a starting position, and no end to settlement building, it would appear Netanyahu has succeeded in his political aims. Abbas on the other hand after promising for years not to negotiate without an end to settlement building, has capitulated completely, the US/Israel have the measure of the Palestinian leadership, just apply enough pressure and they will fold. The issue of the prisoners is not really a political question, important as it is to the prisoners and their families, in fact Israel could release all the thousands of prisoners and the Palestinians would still not have advanced their political positions one iota. Finally the US/Israel aim of ‘getting past September’ and the UN, [Agencies, ICJ and ICC] has been achieved, plus international pressure has been lifted on Israel, all in all, a spectacular win win for US/Israel, at least in the short term.

  12. American on July 26, 2013, 6:37 pm

    This will go nowhere.
    And as far as the recent EU 1967 Guidelines tut tutting on the settlements all that came of that is the EU then declared Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization—-just as Israel wanted……so score so far on that, Israel 1 – World 0.
    And the Obama Adm isn’t going to do anything but hand it all off to his successor.

    Next election I’ m going totally isolationist if there’s anyone even close to that among the candidates. Not that I think we could maintain that indefinitely. But if you’r in boat tipping to one side and about to be swamped you need to move everyone to the other side to get some balance.

    • James Canning on July 26, 2013, 6:51 pm

      @American – – The EU action on Hezbollah’s military wing will have little practical effect on Hezbollah’s operations. Israel may have insisted on this, as condition for going to Washington for talks on I/P.

      The Soviet Union settled hundreds of thousands of ethnic Russians in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, hoping to “Russify” those countries permanently. The effort failed. Presence of Jews in Palestine should not present a huge problem.

      • Citizen on July 26, 2013, 7:32 pm

        EU declaring part of Hezbollah a terrorist organizations greases Israel’s plan to strike Hezbollah when Israel feels like it’s most opportune, or even as soon as Israel can fabricate a false flag. Nobody will interfere.

        The pic at the top of this article says everything. Kerry’s the altar boy, supplicant of course. Looking at it, one would never conclude the USA sends $8.5 direct million dollars to Israel every day–even while in sequester with federal civilian workers and teachers losing work hours or jobs, seniors losing medicare advantage plan benefits, Detroit going bankrupt, etc.

        And the guy Kerry is bowing to looks like he’s got a flying saucer from Mars on his head, and the guys with shades look like a B movie’s rendition of the New Jew/Sabra.

      • Taxi on July 27, 2013, 5:38 am


        The only time israel’s gonna strike hizb/lebanon is when it feels that its back is up against the wall and will risk an all out regional war. There’s no way in hell israel will strike at lebanon with tel aviv and “beyond” being a major hizb target.

        I was speaking to a lebanese guy the other day who said: “I wish israel would make the mistake of attacking us. We’ve waiting a long time to destroy tel aviv and now we can.”

      • just on July 27, 2013, 8:54 am

        Yeah, the photo made me retch.

        Shalom, indeed.

      • James Canning on July 27, 2013, 1:48 pm

        @Taxi – – Hezbollah would be likely to hit Tel Aviv with some rockets, if another war erupts. What good would this do for Hezbollah?

      • James Canning on July 27, 2013, 2:00 pm

        @Citizen – – True cost to America, to “protect” Israel, runs into trillions of dollars.

      • Citizen on July 27, 2013, 2:13 pm

        @ James Canning
        Yes it does. Dick and Jane have no clue. The issue is, how can we give them a clue? I don’t think the billboards in Helena will do. The issue, therefore, is how do we get the mainstream media to talk about this since it’s owned, and /or substantially controlled by Zionists? It’s true, but if you say so, you are ASAP dissed by the same media as ultra-fringe David Duke followers.

      • Taxi on July 27, 2013, 2:26 pm


        Not “rockets”, try ‘missiles’.

        “What good would that do”?


        I’ll leave that up to you to parse and triangulate, dear James.

      • James Canning on July 27, 2013, 6:44 pm

        @Citizen – – Some American publications do a good job of putting out the truth. Vanity Fair, for example.
        But the blunt truth, of course, is that a “pro-Israel” viewpoint is relentlessly put forward by most American news media.
        Most Americans seem to lack interest in the subject.

      • James Canning on July 27, 2013, 6:46 pm

        @Taxi — Israel seems able to continue its “eye for an eyelash” programme. So, if a few hundred Jews are killed in Tel Aviv, how many thousands of Lebanese would get slaughtered?

      • Citizen on July 27, 2013, 7:54 pm

        @ James Canning
        Yep. I don’t personally know, and regularly or even occasionally interact with, a single American gentile person who cares. And I’ve accumulated 71 years in America, up and down the socio-economic scale.

      • Taxi on July 28, 2013, 2:27 am

        Only a “few hundred jews killed”?

        You’re obviously unaware of the Hizb’s advanced arsenal.

        And you’re also unaware of the guilty cowardice that resides in the hearts of israelis, as opposed to the culture of righteous martyrdom prevalent in not just the hizb, but in all resistances fighting against israel.

        The old days of “eye for an eyelash” have been over since 2006. Why else do you think israel would strike so-called hizb weapons inside Syria and not inside Lebanon?

      • James Canning on July 29, 2013, 7:20 pm

        @Taxi – – Wasn’t the 2008-09 Israeli rampage in Gaza a vivid demonstration of the “eye for an eyelash” strategy pursued by Israel?

      • James Canning on July 29, 2013, 7:22 pm

        @Citizen – – American gentiles who do not care about slaughter of Palestinians or Lebanese? I have met quite a few who care deeply.

      • Taxi on July 29, 2013, 11:24 pm

        Yes it was, James, but that was hitting poor old Gaza, not Lebanon. Added to that, soon as Hamas rockets started to hit tel aviv, well, if you recall, the israelis unilaterally and suddenly stopped their assault on Gaza and declared their objectives were ‘realized’. Yeah right.

  13. southernobserver on July 26, 2013, 7:31 pm

    to all; presumably even the current Palestinian ‘leadership’, nonelected though they may be, know all this too? After all the last set of talks fell over because the Israeli’s basically wanted the prison-statelet solution, and wouldn’t offer anything close to a continuous Palestine.

    does anybody have any insight into _why_ on earth they are going along with this theocratic/racist charade?

    • Citizen on July 27, 2013, 5:35 am

      @ southernobserver

      Apparently Kerry got together with the Arab League’s follow-up committee and got them to agree to make concessions before Abbas could consult with them after he met with Kerry. In the past, said committee backed the PA’s POV, which gave PA some modest backup power. Now, Abbas is standing alone, with no time and no place to run to for support, afraid if PA doesn’t go along US will strip it of funding:

      • Citizen on July 27, 2013, 8:13 am

        This article argues that the PA is going along with the US program as it is the best choice under the circumstances, in part, especially considering the split with HAMAS:

      • NickJOCW on July 27, 2013, 2:46 pm

        Abbas lacks legitimacy at home, the PA has no Prime Minister and the search for one has become a soap opera. It also faces a financial crisis with debts of over 4.5 billion dollars. A dead leaf swept by the stream.

      • just on July 29, 2013, 10:18 pm

        “A dead leaf swept by the stream”.

        Wow. A pretty pompous and benighted statement.

        Living under Occupation and isolation with continued threats by Apartheid Israel makes life so very easy for all Palestinians. I promise you that the Palestinians will survive and thrive one day– soon– in spite of your unenlightened assessment.

        Do you denigrate the PA, Hamas, and anything/anyone Palestinian?

    • James Canning on July 27, 2013, 6:47 pm

      @Southern – – Palestinian leaders are compelled to go to Washington. as practical matter.

  14. just on July 26, 2013, 9:06 pm

    There is no reason to believe that the Israeli government wants peace. They want regional hegemony and the eradication/expulsion of the Palestinian people; they want their land, their resources, their acquiescence. They want them gone completely.

    And we in the US continue to lie and pretend to be a staunch supporter of human rights and justice, all the while supporting a terrorist, Apartheid, out of control country of thieves, thugs, jailors of children and a government without a conscience. (Not all Israelis, btw). This unhealthy relationship puts our own national security at risk. The hypocrisy reeks.


    • weindeb on July 27, 2013, 6:01 am

      Your posting name, just, seems to me most accurate; in a very few words you have pretty much summed up exactly what Israel truly is and plans to remain so.

    • Citizen on July 27, 2013, 8:14 am

      @ just
      Good summary.

  15. Sumud on July 26, 2013, 10:27 pm

    I wish Netanyahu a long and healthy life; so he can see the transformation of mandate Palestine to a single democratic state with equal rights for all it’s citizens, right of return enacted, and a Palestinian majority.

    He’s an idiot if he thinks that apartheid is a sustainable long term proposition.

  16. ziusudra on July 27, 2013, 2:58 am

    What peace process has taken so Long in history.
    Normally a peace process ensures after the warring parties are spent & peace comes quickly. The 30 years’ war took 4 within the 30!
    We saw in the last scuttle in so. Lebanon how Bibi verbally sewed for peace after 4 days!? Hence, get B. into a scuttle in Syria that will last 6 months & we’ll see just how quickly he moves his tucus towards peace!

  17. ziusudra on July 27, 2013, 2:59 am

    What peace process has taken so Long in history.
    Normally a peace process ensures after the warring parties are spent & peace comes quickly.
    We saw in the last scuttle in so. Lebanon how Bibi verbally sewed for peace after 4 days!? Hence, get B. into a scuttle in Syria that will last 6 months & we’ll see just how quickly he moves his tucus towards peace!

  18. NickJOCW on July 27, 2013, 5:46 am

    This is probably a wild goose chase inspired by the resignation of Rami Hamdallah on June 20, its primary purpose being to keep Mahmoud Abbas in place at least until they manage to appoint a new Prime Minister. Neither Washington nor Tel Aviv want even to think about is being obliged to face Hamas across the table.

  19. amigo on July 27, 2013, 8:19 am

    Deputy foreign minister Zeev Elkin said any co-operation with the EU was impossible, as long as the new EU directives remained. “The moment that the EU tries to dictate the outcome of the negotiations with the Palestinians, it has to know that Israel will not be able to consider it an honest broker; and if it is not an honest broker, there is no reason for it to be involved in Judea and Samaria [West Bank] or to be given an attentive ear.” (as reported in The Irish Times)

    Let,s see.

    An Honest broker for Israel is one who either kisses zionist ass and or stay out of the way while Israel carries out it,s crimes and sticks it,s finger at the EU and the rest of the world.

    The US meets the Israeli definition—and some.

  20. Citizen on July 27, 2013, 8:26 am

    The act to make Israel officially our only unique most special strategic ally and to burden us with its discrimination under our first non-reciprocal visa waiver program keeps gathering more congressional signatures–here’s the latest update:

    Jul 25, 2013 — New Cosponsors

    H.R. 938: United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013

    New Cosponsor: Rep. Jim Cooper [D-TN5]

    New Cosponsor: Rep. Gregg Harper [R-MS3]

    New Cosponsor: Rep. David Price [D-NC4]

    • James Canning on July 27, 2013, 2:19 pm

      Full court press, by Israel lobby? Comply, or else?

    • RoHa on July 27, 2013, 9:33 pm

      “Israel officially our only unique most special strategic ally”

      In the meantime, the US is holding what are probably the largest joint military exercises ever with a very ordinary and not at all special or terribly strategic or particularly close sort of ally which has fought alongside the US in WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq 1990, Iraq2003, and Afghanistan.

      Can’t remember the name of this totally insignificant place.

  21. MHughes976 on July 27, 2013, 12:48 pm

    I’ve always thought that the peace process and the 2ss were manifestly unjust but not that they were dead. I rather think that one day, now or later, there will be 2s phase, probably not a ‘solution’ but an unstable half-way position. It will involve either a Palestine of enclaves that can and will slowly, beginning with the smallest, be cleared ‘because of terrorist provocations’ or ‘in response to a generous offer of resettlement’ or a Palestine that turns out to be immovable and slowly forces its people into equality within a river-to-sea economy. Don’t know which.
    I think that not even the Netanyahu-Kerry duo has complete freedom of manoeuvre. They can’t just say ‘We told the Palestinians from the beginning that they would get absolutely nothing from negotiations and we stuck to that’: at least not without seeing a significant erosion of their support, even in the United States. To avoid that erosion they have to make that Generous Offer, or at least something that looks like that and involves at least the appearance of an at least partial climb-down ‘for the sake of peace’ from what they are saying now

  22. James Canning on July 27, 2013, 1:33 pm

    @Citizen – – Good article, and yes, the Palestinians did well to move forward with talks in Washington, while doing all possible to protect 1967 borders.

    It remains unclear to what extent Hamas officials were involved in terrorist attacks in the Sinai.

  23. Citizen on July 28, 2013, 7:35 am

    AIPAC’s major reason for getting the bills making Israel our officially lone “major strategic ally” flying through congress now) is to exempt foreign aid to Israel from sequester cuts:

  24. Citizen on July 29, 2013, 8:49 am

    An average whitebread person learns he or she does, after all, have a dog in this fight between Jewish Israeli’s and Palestinians:

  25. anthonybellchambers on July 29, 2013, 12:19 pm

    Of course, there is no hope. This is a staged play act in which Israel who has occupied the West Bank and illegally colonised it since 1967, is determined never to allow the establishment of a Palestinian state anywhere west of the River Jordan.

    Netanyahu and he Likud party of which he is leader has an agenda to transfer all Palestinian Arabs, i.e. the largest indigenous people of the region, out of the West Bank in order to illegally incorporate it into Israel.

    To achieve this, there will eventually be war. And Israel will then use her undeclared nuclear weapons to reinforce her illegal expansion notwithstanding that it violates the will of he UN, the EU and even her mentor, the US.

  26. GusCall on July 31, 2013, 9:22 am

    The US appoints arch-Zionist Indyk as its representative and places the Israeli flag in the middle at the opening when Kerry presents Livni and Erekat to the press.
    For the US, Israel is the main thing.

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