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John Kerry’s doomed peace process is deja vu all over again

ActivismIsrael/PalestineMiddle EastUS Politics
on 58 Comments
Erakat and Livni
Secretary of State John Kerry kicked off a renewed peace process earlier this week in Washington. (Bureau of Public Affairs/State Department)

Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest foray into Middle East negotiations should be called the Einstein peace process.  Doing the same thing over and over again and still expecting different results is the great scientist’s definition of insanity. This time around, indications are that Kerry actually believes, all evidence to the contrary aside, that this latest iteration of the decades-old industry known as the “peace process” might really succeed. But unfortunately for Kerry, his political calculations are about to run aground on the unforgiving shoals of political reality.
Whatever Kerry’s beliefs, the timing of this latest version of the talks clearly has a lot to do with the crises erupting across the Middle East region. The escalating civil and regional war in Syria, the growing sectarian and religious-secular divides exploding across the region, and even the Pentagon-backed Egyptian military’s coup against the Muslim Brotherhood all reflect broader U.S. weakness and failures in the Middle East. The inability of the U.S. to respond strategically to those challenges is certainly part of why plunging back into Israel-Palestine talks, however repetitive of earlier failures, might have seemed a useful move – for distraction, for reassurance of Israel’s backers, for reassertion of a weakened empire’s fading but still extant power.
But despite all those reasons, these talks are doomed to the same failure as the 22 years of failed diplomacy that precedes them.
Part of the problem lies squarely in Kerry’s stated U.S. goal for the talks: “ending the conflict, ending the claims.” Not ending the occupation, not ending the siege of Gaza, not ending the decades of dispossession and exile of Palestinian refugees. Only ending the tension, the dispute – regardless of which version of current reality becomes the officially agreed upon final status. Then, in Kerry’s world, all Palestinian claims will disappear, and the Palestinians, even if their internationally-recognized rights remain out of reach, will smile, applaud their brave leaders, and politely agree to suck it up. (Future Israeli claims will not have to end, of course, because Israeli claims are about “security,” inherently legitimate and non-negotiable, while Palestinian claims – to self-determination, real sovereignty, equality, return – are simply political and up for grabs.)
The appointment of Martin Indyk as U.S. envoy to the talks is a further indication that no one intends to change the framework of the last 22 years of failed U.S.-led diplomacy. Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, former deputy research director of AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobby, and co-founder of the AIPAC-linked Washington Institute for Near East Policy, has been central to U.S.-controlled Israel-Palestine diplomacy for years. (In recent years it has become common to see Indyk, Dennis Ross, Aaron Miller and others responsible for the 22 years of failed U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East relying on their “veteran” status as a credential for continuing their careers.)
This round, like those before, will ignore international law, and instead be based on accepting the current disparity of power between occupied and occupier. The pro-Israel U.S. arbiter will determine the Israeli positions and Israeli-proposed “compromises” to be “reasonable.” Israel will continue to build and expand settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank based on the thousands of permits already in place, while likely offering some kind of short-term partial slowdown in granting some number of new permits – and that will be called a major compromise. More than 600,000 Israeli settlers will continue to live in huge city-sized Jews-only settlements throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the talks will be rooted in the understanding that in any final arrangement Israel will be allowed to keep all the major settlement blocs, the aquifers, and 80% or more of the settlers right where they are.

Secretary Kerry announced proudly that this round of talks is different – based on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. But he slid over the small U.S.- and Israeli-imposed “adjustment” to that plan, which stripped it of its potential value. The plan originally offered Arab states’ normalization with Israel only after “full” withdrawal to the 1967 borders, and a just solution to the refugee problem based on UN resolution 194 guaranteeing their right of return. Kerry’s new version ignores the refugees (at least so far) and adopts the U.S.-Israeli language on borders (always said as one word) of 1967-borders-with-swaps. Those land “swaps,” of course, mean Israel gets to keep all its settlement cities, most of its illegal settlers, virtually all the Palestinian water sources, while the Palestinians will be offered some undeveloped desert land abutting Gaza, or perhaps a proposal to place Palestinian-majority cities inside Israel, such as Nazareth, under the jurisdiction of the to-be-created Palestinian “state.” (There is likely to be no compromise even discussed on Gaza – Israel’s siege will remain, strengthened by Egypt’s new post-coup government sealing tunnels and tightening the closure of the Egypt-Gaza crossing at Rafah – and the Palestinian Authority diplomats are not likely to make Gaza a major part of their negotiating strategy.)
Palestinians, of course, will be expected to accept Israel’s “reasonable” compromises as if both sides, occupied & occupier, have the same obligations under international law. (Oh right, international law doesn’t have a role here.) The price, if Palestinians reject any of Israel’s oh-so-reasonable proposals, will be U.S. and perhaps global opprobrium for blocking peace.  Right now some developing countries (South Africa, Brazil) are hinting at somewhat more independent positions towards Israel-Palestine. The European Union’s new restrictions on funding settlement entities, made public just before Kerry’s announcement of the new talks and Israel’s acceptance of them, is particularly important, reflecting the impact of even mild sanctions on Tel Aviv. But while the civil society movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) continues to build, it remains unclear how the governments tentatively backing away from U.S. positions would respond to the collapse of the U.S.-controlled talks, especially if the U.S. claim is that the failure is the Palestinians’ fault.

Israeli violations of international law, the Geneva Conventions, UN resolutions and more remain. The U.S. does not set an end to those violations as a goal of these peace talks – let alone as a precondition. If it did, Israel would have to end its occupation of the 1967 territories and recognize the Palestinians’ right of return unilaterally – ending violations shouldn’t require negotiations. That’s why, ultimately, these talks will fail. Until negotiations are based not on U.S. support for Israeli power but on international law, human rights, and equality for all, the “peace process,” including this latest Einstein Edition, will continue to fail.

58 Responses

  1. Hostage
    August 1, 2013, 2:08 pm

    Kerry claimed that he was going to keep the framework and details confidential. That didn’t last long. It looks like the same old same old take it or leave it offer:

    Israel to retain 85% of settlement blocs, Kerry reportedly says

    Congressman who spoke to secretary of state after initial Washington meetings says he sounded optimistic about peace talks

    WASHINGTON – Secretary of State John Kerry estimated in conversations with Congressmen that Israel will retain 85% of the settlement blocs in a future peace deal,7340,L-4412493,00.html

    • Sibiriak
      August 1, 2013, 2:57 pm


      It looks like the same old same old take it or leave it offer…

      And it’s not inconceivable that the Palestinians take it.

      As Norman Finkelstein put it:

      When you add up all these factors, it’s possible that the U.S. can impose a historic defeat on the Palestinians…

      So history is full of surprises, in both directions. Palestinians may have reached the point where they look around and say “this is the best we can get”, and, even in a referendum, sign on to it. You can’t predict that they won’t do that. It’s possible.

    • James Canning
      James Canning
      August 1, 2013, 3:16 pm

      85% of the area of illegal settlements? Or of population. Presume latter.

      • southernobserver
        August 1, 2013, 9:38 pm

        either way, from my memory of the previous exchange of offers, this means even less than omert supposedly was willing to offer, loss of all of the key acquifers and no communication between the islands of Palestinians.

        This means that Mr Kerry expects that the Palestinians will settle for a prison state that cannot possibly work.

        I don’t minimize the downside. Things can be worse. All the same, I don’t see why mr kerry would genuinely expect this to be acceptable, unless he really really hates the Palestinians?

      • James Canning
        James Canning
        August 4, 2013, 6:43 pm

        @Southern – – Highly unlikey Kerry “hates the Palestinians”.

        New York Review of Books Aug. 15 has very informative piece on so-called Olmert offer, and subsequent proposals.

      • Citizen
        August 2, 2013, 2:09 am

        @ James Canning
        He said “settlement blocs.”
        Not 85% of settlers to remain intact.

      • James Canning
        James Canning
        August 3, 2013, 1:53 pm

        @Citizen – – Netanyahu probably wants 85% of area and 85% of illegal settlers. Or, even more of the illegal settlers (than 85%). In situ.

      • Hostage
        August 2, 2013, 4:10 am

        85% of the area of illegal settlements? Or of population. Presume latter.

        Kerry served as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He knows the difference between settlement population and settlement blocs. The latter are areas that Israel has always claimed will be part of Israel under any final agreement.

      • James Canning
        James Canning
        August 2, 2013, 6:55 pm

        @Hostage. Maybe William Hague will tell John Kerry the 1967 borders have to control, almost entirely. Scr*w Bibi.

    • john h
      john h
      August 1, 2013, 9:43 pm

      “Same old same old”. Yeah, same old lame old blame old shame old.

    • Justpassingby
      August 2, 2013, 5:17 am

      Uh Israel keeping all, not only settlements, but the blocs too?
      Why have talks at all?!

    • Rusty Pipes
      Rusty Pipes
      August 3, 2013, 5:47 pm

      Considering the source is ynet quoting unnamed congresscritters, I’d take that report with a good measure of salt. The congresscritters were more likely trying to impress their Zionist contacts and major donors that the Democrats have Israel’s best interests in mind at all times: “And even though Kerry claims that he’s playing his cards close to his chest, since I’m his extra-special friend, not only did he clue me in on some details, but I know how to read between the lines of what he says (so, please write me a check and don’t send a bigger one to the Republicans).”

  2. mondonut
    August 1, 2013, 2:27 pm

    So basically – the only acceptable solution is for Israel to assent to all Palestinian demands.

    • James Canning
      James Canning
      August 3, 2013, 1:58 pm

      Wrong. Israel should accept 2002 Saudi peace plan, with a tweak or two.

      • miriam6
        August 3, 2013, 7:12 pm

        James Canning @ said:

        Wrong. Israel should accept 2002 Saudi peace plan, with a tweak or two.

        You seem to be unaware of how in 2001 , the Saudi’s had tried to , unsuccessfully ,pressure Yasser Arafat into accepting the peace deal offered at Camp David.

        From Jerusalem: A Biography
        By Simon Sebag Montefiore
        From the Epilogue;


        Page 509;

        At the presidential retreat of Camp David , Clinton brought together the new prime minister Ehud Barak and Arafat in July 2000.
        Barak boldly offered a ‘final ‘deal: 91 per cent of the West Bank with the Palestinian capital in Abu Dis and all the Arab suburbs of Jerusalem.
        The Old City would remain under Israeli sovereignty but the Muslim and Christian Quarters and the Temple Mount would be under Palestinian ‘ sovereign custodianship.’
        The earth and tunnels beneath the Sanctuary – above all the Foundation Stone of the Temple – would remain Israeli and for the first time, Jews would be allowed to pray in limited numbers somewhere on the Temple Mount.
        The Old City would be jointly patrolled but demilitarized and open to all.
        Already offered half the Old City Quarters, Arafat demanded the Armenian Quarter.
        Israel agreed , effectively offering three-quarters of the old city .

        Despite Saudi pressure to accept,

        Arafat felt he could neither negotiate a final settlement of the Palestinian’s right of return nor approve Israeli sovereignty over the dome which belonged to all Islam.

        ‘Do you want to attend my funeral?’ he exclaimed to Clinton.’ I won’t relinquish Jerusalem and the holy places.’

        But his rejection was much more fundamental :

        during the talks, Arafat shocked the Americans and Israelis when he insisted that Jerusalem had never been the site of the Jewish Temple, which had in fact existed only on the Samaritan Mount Gerizim. The City’s holiness for Jews was a modern invention.

        In talks later that year in the last weeks of Clinton’s presidency, Israel offered full sovereignty on the temple mount keeping only a symbolic link to the Holy of Holies beneath, but Arafat rejected this.

      • Hostage
        August 4, 2013, 11:53 am

        You seem to be unaware of how in 2001 , the Saudi’s had tried to , unsuccessfully ,pressure Yasser Arafat into accepting the peace deal offered at Camp David.

        LOL! Clinton and Arafat never even obtained a written proposal from Barak, and he subsequently denied that he’d offered the Palestinians anything at all. So Camp David doesn’t have anything to do with it. Ben Ami was the Israeli Foreign Minister during those talks. He admitted afterward that, if he had been a Palestinian negotiator, he too would have turned down the terms Israel had suggested to Arafat.

        FYI, the Arab Peace Initiative (API) was adopted by all of the members of the Arab League of States, including Palestine and Saudi Arabia. Unlike the details of Clinton’s Camp David summit, the API included a written offer that has been endorsed by the UN. The API is also cited in the application of Palestine for membership in the UN organization and the General Assembly resolution that upgraded its observer status.

      • James Canning
        James Canning
        August 4, 2013, 1:00 pm

        It is true that Prince Bandar bin Sultan thought the Palestinians should have taken the so-called offer. But 2002 Saudi peace plan should have been backed by the Bush administration. Condoleezza Rice did not “have a clue” about what to do.

      • James Canning
        James Canning
        August 4, 2013, 1:18 pm

        @Miriam – – I knew at the time that Prince Bandar bin Sultan was very sorry Arafat did not take the supposed deal.

      • miriam6
        August 4, 2013, 7:00 pm

        Hostage @ :

        LOL! Clinton and Arafat never even obtained a written proposal from Barak, and he subsequently denied that he’d offered the Palestinians anything at all.
        So Camp David doesn’t have anything to do with it. Ben Ami was the Israeli Foreign Minister during those talks. He admitted afterward that, if he had been a Palestinian negotiator, he too would have turned down the terms Israel had suggested to Arafat.

        Your response does nothing to negate the fact that the Saudi’s DID have to try , unsuccessfully , to pressure Arafat to at least respond meaningfully to the Israeli proposals .
        Commenters on this site never mention this fact when they talk about Israel’s supposed failure to respond to the later 2002 Saudi proposals.

        Whether that Camp David 2001 proposal was written or not hardly matters, as Shlomo Ben – Ami says later in this article from the Jewish Virtual Library , he ( Ben – Ami ) was of the opinion that the Palestinians weren’t even in the game.

        Also , it would be pretty natural given the collapse and lack of success at Camp David , that leaders like Ben-Ami and Barak WOULD indeed attempt to deny , and deny on order to distance themselves from those failed talks.

        Both sides would, in the wake of the failure of Camp David 2001 – seek to shrug off responsibility for the failure.
        Nothing surprising about that.

        My turn to LOL again straight back at you.
        According to Ben – Ami in THIS interview, the Palestinians did not even BOTHER to even make an counter-proposal, written or not!Rendering the question of whether or not the Palestinians received a written proposal from the Israelis quite meaningless.
        Rendering Ben Ami’s supposed comment about if he had been a Palestinian negotiator, he too would have turned down the terms Israel had suggested to Arafat. meaningless too.

        Any way from the horse’s mouth, as it were , here is part of an interview with Shlomo Ben-Ami about the failed Camp David 2001 talks;

        Question: Didn’t the Palestinians make a counterproposal?

        Answer: ( Shlomo Ben Ami ) : “No. And that is the heart of the matter. Never, in the negotiations between us and the Palestinians, was there a Palestinian counterproposal.
        There never was and there never will be.
        So the Israeli negotiator always finds himself in a dilemma:
        Either I get up and walk out because these guys aren’t ready to put forward proposals of their own, or I make another concession. In the end, even the most moderate negotiator reaches a point where he understands that there is no end to it.”

        Question: So it was over this that Camp David collapsed, the Palestinian rejection of an American proposal on Jerusalem that you found inadequate?

        Answer: (Ben-Ami): “No. Camp David collapsed over the fact that they refused to get into the game.
        They refused to make a counterproposal.
        No one demanded that they give a positive response to that particular proposal of Clinton’s.
        Contrary to all the nonsense spouted by the knights of the left, there was no ultimatum.
        What was being asked of the Palestinians was far more elementary: that they put forward, at least once, their own counterproposal.
        That they not just say all the time `That’s not good enough’ and wait for us to make more concessions.
        That’s why the president sent [CIA director George] Tenet to Arafat that night – in order to tell him that it would be worth his while to think it over one more time and not give an answer until the morning. But Arafat couldn’t take it anymore.
        He missed the applause of the masses in Gaza.”

      • Hostage
        August 5, 2013, 5:41 am

        Whether that Camp David 2001 proposal was written or not hardly matters, as Shlomo Ben – Ami says later in this article from the Jewish Virtual Library , he ( Ben – Ami ) was of the opinion that the Palestinians weren’t even in the game.

        Miriam, I hope you’re not as unintelligent as you appear to be, while beating the dead Camp David horse and the legend about the role played by the Saudis. The bottom line is that, Camp David did not portend or represent a difference of opinion between Arafat and the Saudis over the terms of the subsequent Arab Peace Initiative (API). Similarly, the September 2001 Ben Ami interview you are flogging about the lack of a counterproposal is also moot. Six months later, in March of 2002, the Arabs unanimously approved their counterproposal – the API. In his 2006 Democracy Now interview Ben Ami stopped pointing fingers and trying to assign blame elsewhere and admitted that Israel had offered a lousy deal: “If I were a Palestinian, I Would Have Rejected Camp David”. None of us can unsee that video, no matter how many times you cite the now-outdated sour grapes contained in the 2oo1 Haaretz interview.

        By way of comparison, the Middle East Quartet asked both sides to provide a map of the proposed borders within 90 days back in September of 2011. The Palestinians responded during the first meeting in Amman, but Israel has “refused to get into the game” with any counterproposal.

        The polls showed that Barak and Ben Ami did not have the support of the Knesset or voters during the Camp David Summit. The offers made by Olmert and the current regime similarly can’t be put in writing without fracturing their fragile coalitions. If you can’t put the precise details of your proposal in writing or on draw a line on a map, then it can’t possibly be the basis of an international treaty agreement that can be “accepted” or the object of a “counter offer”. It’s just as simple as that. There have been several articles here debunking the myths about Clinton’s Camp David Summit and Barak’s vague proposals.

      • Sibiriak
        August 5, 2013, 7:05 am


        the Saudi’s had tried to , unsuccessfully ,pressure Yasser Arafat into accepting the peace deal offered at Camp David.

        Is this the deal you are referring to:

        …there is a general consensus on the broad outlines of what Barak verbally seemed to be offering at Camp David: a demilitarized Palestinian state in some 85-90% of the occupied territories, but with Israel retaining (1) most of Jerusalem, (2) most of the largest Jewish settlements, typically located on the most fertile lands in the West Bank and some of them extending far from the Green Line into the Palestinian areas, (3) most of the West Bank water aquifers, and (4) direct military control over the Jordan River valley and adjacent mountains.

        Thus, if Arafat had accepted Barak’s concept of a “fair and generous” settlement, the Palestinians would have gained only a tiny, impoverished, water-starved Palestinian “state,” divided into at least three different enclaves—in effect, Bantustans separated from each other by Israeli armed forces, roads, and settlements.

        (Jerome Slater; see Hostage’s links).

        Why should the Palestinians have accepted such a deal, in your view? Can you understand why such an unfair and un-generous offer was flatly rejected?

      • James Canning
        James Canning
        August 5, 2013, 2:47 pm

        @Sibiriak – – The offer to Israel organised by the Saudis (2002 Saudi peace plan) was reasonable. Prior “offer” had too many holes. But Prince Bandar thought Palestinians should have taken it.

      • miriam6
        August 5, 2013, 8:06 pm

        [email protected]:

        The Saudi peace plan of 2002 was not in fact the magic cure-all you seem to be suggesting.

        The summit itself was met with some scepticism , for example from Robert Fisk , who maintained the decision of Jordan’s King Abdullah and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak to stay away from the summit was because

        “they can smell a dead rat from quite a long way away.”

        Only ten of the twenty-two leaders invited to the March 27 Arab League summit in Beirut, Lebanon could make it.[10]

        The lack of participation lead Australian Broadcasting Corporation reporter Tim Palmer to label the summit “emasculated”.[10]

        By April 2007 that number of participating Arab League members was reduced to four ;

        Israel says that it cannot accept or compromise on parts of the Saudi peace plan, including the Palestinian right of return and East Jerusalem as the capital of a new Palestinian state.
        Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offers to hold a summit with all moderate Arab states to discuss the future of the proposals.
        At the Riyadh summit, the group of Arab League members involved in furthering the initiative was cut down from 11 to four states, all close to the US: the UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. (International Relations and Security Network

        Ironically , given Jerome Slater’s rubbishing of Thomas Friedman over Camp David 2001 , Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Thomas Friedman met Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah in February 2002 and personally encouraged him to make the peace proposal.

        There was also opposition to the Saudi plan from the so – called rejectionist front Syria, Libya and Hamas;

        From its inception in 2002, the Initiative deeply divided the organization. ( Hamas )[7]
        As stated before, members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, committed the Passover Massacre on same day as the peace Initiative’s adoption.[3]
        At that time, Hamas rejected not only peace with Israel but even negotiations with it.[17]
        The official administration of Hamas never recognized the Initiative, which alienated it from members of the Arab League, especially Jordan and Egypt.[45] One of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ conditions of forming a national coalition government with Hamas after the 2006 election was that Hamas had to recognize the Initiative, but he was unsuccessful.[45]

        Although the Initiative was adopted unanimously, there was some debate on certain issues.
        The summit leaders faced stiff opposition from the government of Syria, which insisted on letting the Palestinians pursue armed resistance.[11]
        It also objected to the use of the term “normalization” and insisted that any such offer was too generous to Israel.[17]
        The government of Lebanon expressed concerns that some of its Palestinian refugees would try to settle where they are, which it strongly opposes.[17]

        You have forgotten that the Saudi Peace Plan was ONLY an outline of what a two- state solution would look like.

        The main strength of the Saudi Peace Plan of 2002 is the support given by Arab countries to a two-state solution.

        However , its weakness is that the parties have to negotiate the same issues on which they have failed so far.

        Just one of those issues was/is the issue of the right of return.

        This from CNN report on the 2002 peace summit underlines the fact that the Saudi peace plan was a mere outline of a proposed final agreement , leaving all the hard work to later negotiations which had failed in the past;

        In addition, the declaration says the summit ‘rejects all forms of resettlement of Palestinians which conflicts with the special circumstances in the Arab host countries,’ an apparent reference to the Lebanese objections.
        Saudi sources told CNN that the prince intentionally did not spell out the specifics on what was meant by ‘all occupied Arab territories’ and ‘the return of refugees’ to allow the Israelis to settle those matters through negotiations with the Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese.”

      • Hostage
        August 6, 2013, 11:59 am

        Miriam, first you suggest that Jordan and Egypt, who had already normalized relations with Israel anyway, didn’t support the API based upon some commentary about the summit from Robert Fisk. But a little later on in your comment you claim they were among the relatively small number of US puppet states that still supported the plan. You are ignoring the outcome of the summit and the actual positions adopted.

        It’s a fact that all the members of the Arab League have co-sponsored UN resolutions recommending a final settlement on the basis of the API. For example, see the list of state sponsors of the draft resolution that upgraded Palestine’s observer status. It specifically called for a final settlement based upon the API and cited a General Assembly resolution in which the UN Organization had endorsed the API:

        5. Expresses the urgent need for the resumption and acceleration of negotiations within the Middle East peace process based on the relevant United Nations resolutions, the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference, including the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet road map to a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement between the Palestinian and Israeli sides that resolves all outstanding core issues, namely the Palestine refugees, Jerusalem, settlements, borders, security and water;

        I realize you need to deflect attention away from the fact that all the Arab states have agreed to normalize relations with Israel, if it will only agree to abide by the terms of international law that have been laid down and endorsed time and again by the international community of states. But your attempts at dissimulation on this particular subject are pretty feeble.

  3. James Canning
    James Canning
    August 1, 2013, 3:15 pm

    I doubt Palestinian leaders actually think more than a very few Palestinians will ever be able to “return” to Israel within 1967 borders.

    • Hostage
      August 2, 2013, 4:04 am

      I doubt Palestinian leaders actually think more than a very few Palestinians will ever be able to “return” to Israel within 1967 borders.

      Since the US is giving away the farm on the seam zone inside the Occupied Territory by talking about Israel retaining 85% of settlement blocs, there’s damn little hope that some will return to their homes in Palestine. There’s no danger of a deal like that passing the Palestinian referendum that Abbas has proposed.

      • Sibiriak
        August 2, 2013, 6:02 am


        There’s no danger of a deal like that passing the Palestinian referendum that Abbas has proposed.

        Who knows? It could pass. If not: the Palestinians are the ones “rejecting peace”!

      • James Canning
        James Canning
        August 2, 2013, 6:57 pm

        @Hostage. I agree. Time for Kerry to stop kissing B’s backside?

  4. James Canning
    James Canning
    August 1, 2013, 3:19 pm

    We should of course bear in mind that Indyk faulted Obama for not being sufficiently subservient to Israeli demands. Different phrasing, of course. By Indyk.

    • Walid
      August 2, 2013, 12:11 pm

      “Indyk faulted Obama for not being sufficiently subservient to Israeli demands”


      The good doctor talks about having already found solutions on borders, Jerusalem, and refugees. Then what’s left to negotiate?

      From Amira Huweidi a couple of years back about the Jazeera-leaked Palestine Papers:

      From the onset of the Palestinian-Israeli talks 18 years ago, the right of return (ROR) (together with Jerusalem and borders) were marketed to the Palestinian and Arab public as “sensitive” issues that were repeatedly postponed under the pretext of ‘final status talks.’ As the negotiations never progressed to reach any finality, it appears that they were only meant to convey to the Palestinian negotiators the fact that Israel will not allow the return of refugees. What The Palestine Papers reveal is that the Palestinian Authority accepts this.

      … In one instance, chief negotiator Saeb Erekat bluntly tells then-Belgian foreign minister Karel de Gucht on March 23, 2007 that the PA “will not give up refugees before permanent status negotiations” take place. Which means it is willing to give up their rights, but only after negotiations reach the final status stage i.e. Jerusalem, borders, settlements and refugees.

      As Erekat indicates in the same meeting, most Palestinian refugees don’t count. He tells de Gucht that should the Palestinians hold a referendum on a final status agreement the diaspora will not vote: “It’s not going to happen.” The referendum “will be for Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Can’t do it in Lebanon. Can’t do it in Jordan.” Perhaps Erekat knows that the large Palestinian populations in those countries would never accept the concessions he seems willing to make.

      Worse, Erekat tells Livni on 13 November 2007, ahead of the Annapolis Conference:

      Erekat: “We’ve never denied Israel’s right to define itself. If you want to call yourself the Jewish state of Israel—you can call it what you want. (Notes the examples of Iran and Saudi Arabia).”

      By making this acknowledgment, Erekat – contrary to what he or other PA officials say in public – recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, with the implications this has on both the Palestinians living with Israel as second-class citizens whose very existence is under threat, or as refugees seeking to go home.

      • James Canning
        James Canning
        August 3, 2013, 1:48 pm

        @Walid – – I think most Arab leaders comprehend Israel cannot be forced to allow non-Jews to settle in Israel in large numbers.

      • Walid
        August 3, 2013, 5:19 pm

        James Canning, most of the Palestinian people are also aware of this but they are nonetheless expecting some decent compensation or patriation somewhere instead. In addition to having been abandoned by other Arab leaders from the start, most distressing is that their own leaders are now also doing it to them. Most Palestinians wouldn’t want to return to live in a Jewish state anyway and even if they choose to and Israel accepts, they wouldn’t be be able to adapt.

        More on the talents of the Palestinian negotiators by Laila al-Arian from the Jazeera’s Palestine Papers:

        The Palestine Papers show that Palestinian Authority (PA) negotiators were prepared to make major concessions on the refugees’ right of return: on the numbers potentially allowed to return to their homes in what is now Israel; on whether refugees would be able to vote on any peace agreement; and on how many would be able to settle in a future Palestinian state.

        In an email Ziyad Clot, a legal adviser to Palestinian negotiators on the refugee file, writes, “President [Mahmoud] Abbas offered an extremely low proposal for the number of returnees to Israel a few weeks only after the start of the process.”

        The papers also reveal that then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert proposed that 1,000 Palestinian refugees be allowed to return annually to Israel over a period of five years – totalling just 5,000, a tiny fraction of those displaced after Israel’s creation.

        On January 15, 2010, Erekat told US diplomat David Hale that the Palestinians offered Israel the return of “a symbolic number” of refugees.

      • James Canning
        James Canning
        August 4, 2013, 1:36 pm

        @Walid – – I agree, compensation for Palestinians is highly important. Consider how many trillions were squandered by the US on its illegal invasion of Iraq. Which neocon fools thought would do great deal to resolve Israel/Palestine problem.

      • Hostage
        August 3, 2013, 5:02 pm

        March 23, 2007 … He [Ereket] tells de Gucht that should the Palestinians hold a referendum on a final status agreement the diaspora will not vote: “It’s not going to happen.” The referendum “will be for Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Can’t do it in Lebanon. Can’t do it in Jordan.”

        The actual minutes of the Palestine Papers said that Erekat’s boss, Abbas (aka “AM”, Abu Mazen) had stipulated that the entire final agreement, and the specific provisions on refugees, would have to be approved by a national referendum, including a vote conducted in the diaspora.

        Everyone belabors the idea that this private discussion between Abbas and the PLO Negotiation Support Unit somehow conceded the right of return, without pointing out that he actually said it would have to be decided by the national referendum and that compensation would be required in any event:

        Sharif Hamadeh: asked about the remaining elements of the refugee issue, and whether a referendum will be held that includes Palestinian refugees in the diaspora.
        AM: The referendum would be on the whole agreement. Given that the issues relate to all Palestinians, not only those in the West Bank and Gaza, it should be for all Palestinians. On numbers of refugees, it is illogical to ask Israel to take 5 million, or indeed 1 million – that would mean the end of Israel. They said 5000 over 5 years. This is even less than family reunification and is not acceptable. There also has to be compensation, which should come from the the Absentee Property fund. We would like you to follow up and ask about this fund and get as much information as possible. And there needs to be compensation to host countries.
        See page 3 @

      • Walid
        August 3, 2013, 6:17 pm

        “… and that compensation would be required in any event”

        Some misconceptions about compensation; if and when a final settlement and resettlement is agreed on, Palestinians would NOT be individually receiving cheques to buy a condo somewhere, but the host country if it does accept them as residents would be receiving the funds on their behalf to build for them the cities with the required infrastructures to accomodate them. In other words, Palestinians would not be receiving anything directly.
        About 15 years back, Lebanon rejected the offer of $10 billion by the US to naturalize the 400,000 Palestinian refugees. So far, Lebanon has naturalized about 100,000 Christian and Shia Palestinians.

        Intersting essay on American involvement in trying to buy the Palestinians a citizenship elesewhere From Lebanon’s camps:

      • Hostage
        August 4, 2013, 10:39 am

        Palestinians would NOT be individually receiving cheques

        Where do you get the idea that Palestinians would not be receiving individual compensation for absentee property claims? None of those claims involving Palestinians living elsewhere have ever been assigned to any state.

        Abbas made it clear that compensation for host countries was a separate issue:
        There also has to be compensation, which should come from the Absentee Property fund. We would like you to follow up and ask about this fund and get as much information as possible. And there needs to be compensation to host countries.

  5. simonsj
    August 1, 2013, 4:16 pm

    It’s also interesting to observe how the fictional equality of the “two partners” is made “obvious” in the conventions of photojournalism and the staging of diplomatic events. But if you look carefully, you can see in the photos that this process is going nowhere:

  6. NickJOCW
    August 1, 2013, 4:34 pm

    Whatever Kerry’s beliefs, the timing of this latest version of the talks clearly has a lot to do with the crises erupting across the Middle East region.

    But who could possibly imagine otherwise? The US Administration’s ‘beliefs’ are so disconnected from the world on the ground that, like the Zionist’s ‘God given land’ beliefs, it’s impossible to define them as true or false.

    • NickJOCW
      August 1, 2013, 5:14 pm

      My partner just asked me to extrapolate on the above pronouncement and I told him, If someone believes minotaurs can fly you cannot judge the belief to be either true or false since there are no such things as minotaurs.

    • James Canning
      James Canning
      August 3, 2013, 2:00 pm

      @Nick – – I think Kerry would have pressed for deal on Israel/Palestine, had he gained the White House in 2004 election. Bush’s re-election was a disaster for the Palestinians.

  7. piotr
    August 1, 2013, 4:36 pm

    Quite fittingly, Kerry is quoted today as lauding Egyptian military for restoring democracy. Just when they are preparing another bloodbath and witch hunt.

    Imperial brain disease.

    • just
      August 1, 2013, 4:53 pm

      Surreal in the extreme, piotr. “Imperial brain disease”, indeed.

    • Citizen
      August 2, 2013, 2:15 am

      Kerry works within the system. He’s not a Snowden or Manning. He’s ivy league, not community college. He’s part of what the old OWS called the 1%. And it clearly shows. He reminds me of Wilson, who regretted what an asshole he had been, in his dotage. Two things he spelled out as regrettable was US entry into WW1 and signing off on the Federal Reserve banking system. He also was ignored in the Versailles treaty, which directly lead to WW2, which in turn, directly led to legitimization of the state of Israel and the on-going Nakba. Nobody knows for sure why he went along with the Zionists, although there’s a theory they blackmailed him. A stuff old bird in his time, he didn’t want his long letter romance outside of marriage to go public.

      • James Canning
        James Canning
        August 3, 2013, 1:56 pm

        @Citizen – – Is it not fair to say Wilson wanted the Austro-Hungarian empire destroyed? Individual nation-states instead? A blunder?

  8. Keith
    August 1, 2013, 6:13 pm

    “…all reflect broader U.S. weakness and failures in the Middle East….for reassertion of a weakened empire’s fading but still extant power.”

    There seems to be somewhat of a consensus among much of the Left punditry (curiously, Chomsky as well) that the US empire is in terminal decline. I seem to be one of the few who perceive a transmogrification of the US empire into a corporate/financial empire. Yes, the US nation state appears in decline, however, to me at least, the global empire seems relatively stronger than ever with no serious rivals in sight. I don’t mean rivals to the US, I mean rivals to the global matrix of financial control. The USSR is gone, and Russia and China have embraced a form of capitalism and, like everyone else, are utterly dependent upon the global financial system. The Mediterranean has been turned into a NATO lake, AFRICOM is running amok in Africa. Iraq, Libya and probably Syria have been destroyed, Iran is under the gun, neoliberal austerity is being imposed in Europe, the US and elsewhere, trade agreements shred citizen rights as they privilege capital, etc. The only weakness is in the non-sustainability of the current financial architecture leading to collapse, however, I assume that this is foreseen as an opportunity to destroy all opposition to corporate/financial control.

    • Citizen
      August 3, 2013, 11:38 am

      @ Keith
      Yes. The securitization of the US economy is well under way; corporate investors get much more profit from investments than producing actually manufacturing US products and services. The GNP is now being balanced out with GNI by counting securities as actual products, like cars or boats, or apples. The Big banks were bailed out, not the little people. The 2% elite around the world work it out between them; everybody else, including in the US, are being reduced to minor wage debt slaves, the new form of feudalism is making over the world according to Rothschild. You don’t ever have to actually own oil to buy and sell it on the spot market. Speculation, casino style, rules reality.

    • James Canning
      James Canning
      August 3, 2013, 2:24 pm

      Steady decline of economic circumstances of American middle class, relative to middle class in man counties, attributable in part to insane squandering on “defence”, and urban sprawl.

  9. Mayhem
    August 1, 2013, 8:56 pm

    International law is a ruse by those who want to get rid of Israel – read
    The constant reference to terms like ‘occupied territories’, ‘apartheid’, ‘ethnic cleansing’ is the banter of those undoubtedly aiming to eliminate Israel without any idea or concern for the consequences to the Jews living there. For them it is essentially an ideological issue dressed up in the regalia of human rights.
    Hopefully all the arguments will be tabled this time round and the ignorant general public be made aware of the sacrifices Jews have had to make from the original premise of the Palestinian Mandate and the avoidance of Jordan to face up to its concomitant obligations. The debate has been narrowed by those who want to simply this conflict rather than deal with questions that would subtract from the primary concern i.e. to deny Jews a Jewish state. The aim has been to reduce the whole conflict to matters of international law and human rights and to obfuscate the facts by dismissing them as mere hasbara.
    For example there is no precedent ever for a nation that has staved off repeated attempts at its annihilation and victorious each time to be giving away power to the losers. As Abba Eban so aptly expressed it in his book in 1977,

    This is the first war in history which has ended with the victors suing for peace and the vanquished calling for unconditional surrender.

    UN Resolution 242 established a principle that was meant to guide the negotiations for an Arab-Israeli peace settlement.The resolution referred to the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.” Bennis would take this to mean that Israel is required to withdraw from all the territories it captured. On the contrary, the reference clearly applies only to an offensive war. If not, the resolution would provide an incentive for aggression. If one country attacks another, and the defender repels the attack and acquires territory in the process, the former interpretation would require the defender to return all the land it took. Thus, aggressors would have little to lose because they would be insured against the main consequence of defeat.
    There will most certainly be no baby born after this 9 month gestation period – it will be another abortion. In the past it didn’t succeed even when the Palestinians were ‘united’. With Hamas opposed to the process the chances of achieving something now that could not be done before are far far lower.

    • James Canning
      James Canning
      August 3, 2013, 2:13 pm

      Good grief, Mayhem. Arab leaders who backed 2002 Saudi peace plan agreed there was no hope whatever of getting rid of Israel by military means. Iran too accepts this fact.

    • Donald
      August 3, 2013, 2:25 pm

      So, Mayhem, Israel should give the Palestinians in the WB Israeli citizenship. Can’t take the land and not do that–goodness, that would be apartheid if they did.

    • Hostage
      August 3, 2013, 5:20 pm

      International law is a ruse by those who want to get rid of Israel

      Sorry but there was no Israel when the resolution was adopted by the Inter-American Conference on Problems of War and Peace at Mexico on March 6,1945:


      The peoples of the Americas, animated by a profound love of justice, remain sincerely devoted to the principles of international law;

      It is their desire that such principles, notwithstanding the present difficult circumstances, prevail with even greater force in future international relations;

      The inter-American conferences have repeatedly proclaimed certain fundamental principles, but these must be reaffirmed at a time when the juridical bases of the community of nations are being re-established;

      The new situation in the world makes more imperative than ever the union and solidarity of the American peoples, for the defense of their rights and the maintenance of international peace;

      The American states have been incorporating in their international law, since 1890, by means of conventions, resolutions and declarations, the following principles:

      a) The proscription of territorial conquest and the non-recognition of all acquisitions made by force (First International Conference of American States, 1890);

      — 60 Stat. 1831; Treaties and Other International Acts Series 1543

      Why should we change our laws to make any exceptions for Israel?

    • southernobserver
      August 3, 2013, 7:42 pm

      The same old tired lies, in the same words.

      All but the 1973 war were offensive wars by Israel, and that was purely to reclaim territory previously gained by Israel in yet another war of aggression. Allowing the aggressor to retain anything outside the original 1948 border is clearly both morally wrong and undermines any authority against other aggressors.

  10. eGuard
    August 1, 2013, 10:03 pm

    The only fix is “nine months’. In other words: Palestine gov is shut up Guantanamo style. They can’t walk out earlier.

    Let’s boycott.

  11. radkelt
    August 2, 2013, 12:54 am

    Delighted to see Phyllys Bennis on Mondo

  12. Joek
    August 2, 2013, 12:06 pm

    I can’t imagine everyone else sees the absurdity of American involvement in this process but the PNA. The fact Abbas caved once again to American demands is not surprising. He got nothing once again, is not surprising either. The settlements will continue to expand and this charade will once again provide a cover for Israeli war crimes. That too is not surprising.

    What is clear -I should add, abundantly clear, is that the Palestinians have lost this battle on all fronts decades ago. No two state solution will ever materialize and no right of return will ever happen for the exiled Palestinians.
    The only question that needs to be answered, what does a defeated people do having lost ALL their territory and rights? Defeat has to be acknowledged. A white flag has to be thrown. Surrender is the only viable option. Declare the end of the armed struggle. This is a nightmare scenario for Israel.

    They are behind propping up corrupt leadership. They brought the PNA crowd and pumped billions – with other people money, of course – to sustain this corrupt institution while Israel thrives with a cost free military occupation.

    The apple cart needs to be turned upside down.
    Palestinians need to abandon any notion of having a independent state. Palestinians need to abandon any right of return. The refugee card has to expire and people living in Arab countries should be seeking permanent and equal rights in their respective place. If those host countries refuse, plan B goes into effect, Targeting Jordan as a place to return to – if that fails – then and only then an armed struggle to topple the Hashemite Kingdom should commence.

    As for Israel and it’s Arab problem, no more should Palestinians waste time fighting a losing battle over territory – against the 3rd best army in the world with nuclear weapons – backed by the mightiest superpower in modern times.
    The Zionist project has been allowed to thrive because it’s true nature has been masked cleverly.

    Palestinians should be making new demands and fighting over things that are realistic. They shouldn’t fight over stopping settlements but be fighting over the right to live in them? They shouldn’t be fighting over making East Jerusalem their capital but making ALL of Jerusalem accessible to them?

    In essence, allowing the natural course of history to take it’s rightful place. By prolonging the conflict it only serves to delay the inevitable outcome which is a state for all its people – and not just its chosen few.

    Zionism is an anachronism. The only reason why such a truism fails to pierce the light of day is because of the success of Zionist efforts to perpetuate the conflict. And also because the Palestinians are truly utterly incompetent on every front. The fact there is division within the ranks – with Fatah and Hamas – is enough reason to throw the white flag. Why should a Palestinian refugee in Syria or Lebanon continue to be used as pawns in a failed mission?

    It’s over. The Arab countries are themselves too dysfunctional to tackle problems within their own borders to be concerned about the Palestinian cause – not that before this current uprising things were any different. Therefore it is time for the Palestinian cause to be about rights and not territory. It is essential this struggle evolves to deal with the new realities in the region.

  13. piotr
    August 2, 2013, 5:32 pm

    Sorry, more boring news flashes. The wrath of the Lord is descending on Egypt with a plague after plague. I do not know how to count the events that we have seen so far. But worse is still to come.

    1.Speaking before a meeting in London, Mr Kerry said: “Egypt needs to get back to a new normal. It needs to restore stability, to be able to attract business and put people to work.

    “We will work very, very hard … in order to bring parties together to find a peaceful resolution that grows the democracy and respects the rights of everybody.”

    If the country is not utterly devastated yet, American-led peace process may be the missing ingredient.

    2. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., are planning to travel to Egypt as soon as next week, Senate aides said today.

    Smart people are already adjusting their travel plans.

    3. Tourism has come to a complete stop in Egypt after continued violent clashes. The empty planes are a stark symbol of how far the country’s tourism economy will have to climb to become profitable once more.
    — Samantha Shankman
    JUL 29, 2013 9:09 AM
    Cairo airport officials say seven flights to Egypt have been cancelled and that others are arriving with less than 50 percent occupancy

    • just
      August 2, 2013, 6:27 pm

      you are never ‘boring’, piotr. I do appreciate you keeping me apprised of developments, surreal as they are……….

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