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Kerry’s diplomatic doublespeak: The peace process is a puzzle steeped in history where core issues fit together like a mosaic

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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As settler website John Kerry Solutions Ltd‘s parody video portraying Kerry as the man with the “wrong solution for everything” is making the rounds, for many of us complete exasperation has set in. While talk of “direct negotiations” and “state institutions”, has been further downgraded to a “framework” agreement (presumably for the further direct negotiations somewhere down the road), all lips are all (officially) sealed.

The latest leak from an anonymous Palestinian official implies the US is set to shaft Palestinians over East Jerusalem as the future Palestinian capital, referencing it as a mere “aspiration“. No wonder this “framework” might not ever be made public. While the official explanaition is “[t]o avoid exposing the leaders to political pressures,” it is more likely to avoid jumpstarting a third Intifada.

Read yesterday’s latest farcical press briefing from Jerusalem. Seriously, we don’t make this stuff up. According to Kerry, it’s one big puzzle deeply steeped in history where core issues fit together like a mosaic! And they just can’t tell us what’s going on at any given moment of time because it just makes it harder. And there’s a deadline too, but he’s not saying when that is.

 

MODERATOR: Deb.

QUESTION: There have been 20 rounds of negotiations for the —

SECRETARY KERRY: Who’s counting?

QUESTION: Who’s counting, yes. The negotiations seem to be hung up on some pretty serious roadblocks. I mean, Israel, for example, is balking at the ‘67 lines, and that’s a pretty big hurdle.

SECRETARY KERRY: Israel is doing what?

QUESTION: Balking at the ’67 lines.

SECRETARY KERRY: You’re telling me things that I don’t know that I’m not commenting on. So I mean, I don’t know where you – honestly, I don’t know where you know that from. I’m not going to talk about who’s balking, not balking. But don’t believe what you hear.

QUESTION: Okay.

SECRETARY KERRY: What we’re doing right now is working through those issues.

QUESTION: Okay. I know you don’t want to talk about specifics, but can you give the American public, the Israelis, the Palestinians even one example of something even generally in terms of progress that you’ve been able to make in your 10 trips here?

And when the framework is agreed upon, if it’s agreed upon, how detailed will it be? Will it include some sort of a deadline or framework – frame – timeframe for finishing a final status agreement?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me share with you as best I can sort of how this is working and why I am not going to go into the details. I have shared with you that we are talking about all of the core issues, and you know that. You all have traveled out here many times. And you know that the core issues involve territory and the core issues involve security, and they involve refugees and they involve the question of recognition for both peoples and involves, obviously, ultimately, questions about Jerusalem and how you resolve all claims and the conflict itself.

Now, this is deeply steeped in history, and each side has a narrative about their rights and their journey and the conflict itself. And in the end, all of these different core issues actually fit together like a mosaic. It’s a puzzle, and you can’t separate out one piece or another. Because what a leader might be willing to do with respect to a compromise on one particular piece is dependent on what the other leader might be willing to do with respect to a different particular piece. And there’s always a tension as to when you put your card on the table as to which piece you’re willing to do, when, and how. So it has to move with its particular pace and its particular privacy, frankly. And that’s why it’s so important not to be laying out any one particular component of it at any given moment of time, because it actually makes it more difficult for those decisions to be made or for those compromises to be arrived at, or for one of the leaders to have the freedom to be able to do what they need to do in order to figure out the political path ahead, which is obviously real for both.

So the answer is I’m not going to lay out one particular example or another, except to say to you that the path is becoming clearer, the puzzle is becoming more defined, and it is becoming much more apparent to everybody what the remaining tough choices are and what the options are with respect to those choices.

But it takes time to work through these things, and that’s why I have refused to ever set a particular timetable. But I feel comfortable that those major choices are now on the table and that the leaders are grappling with these options, otherwise I wouldn’t be going to talk to other stakeholders in this process the way I am today. But I cannot tell you when particularly the last pieces may decide to fall into place or may fall on the floor and leave the puzzle unfinished. That’s exactly what makes this such a challenge, and also so interesting at the same time.

With respect to – I think you had —

QUESTION: What about the – how detailed will the framework be if it’s —

SECRETARY KERRY: I’m not going to go into – again, we’ll let the framework speak for itself when and if it is achieved and —

QUESTION: But are you seeking some sort of deadline? In other words, it does become kind of —

SECRETARY KERRY: Am I thinking of some sort of deadline?

QUESTION: Is —

SECRETARY KERRY: Sure I am.

QUESTION: Is there a discussion about a deadline so that it doesn’t just (inaudible) a long and —

SECRETARY KERRY: Yes. The answer is yes.

QUESTION: Okay.

SECRETARY KERRY: I have a deadline in mind.

QUESTION: Okay.

As our publisher might say  “That’s diplomatic code for ‘F— yourself you petulant arrogant prick.’”

annie
About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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38 Responses

  1. seafoid
    seafoid
    January 6, 2014, 5:36 pm

    Yeah it’s really hard. Jewish thickheadedness is really mysterious.

    ” each side has a narrative about their rights and their journey and the conflict itself”

    That’s right. It’s the same in football.
    The 49ers insist they won the Superbowl last year and have lined up Congress behind them.

  2. flyod
    flyod
    January 6, 2014, 5:45 pm

    what a waste of time…surely kerry is acting out of fear of a worldwide ketchup boycott

    • annie
      annie
      January 6, 2014, 5:53 pm

      i wonder who writes these things for him.

      But I cannot tell you when particularly the last pieces may decide to fall into place or may fall on the floor and leave the puzzle unfinished. That’s exactly what makes this such a challenge, and also so interesting at the same time.

      mindnumbing. pieces of a puzzle may ‘decide’ to fall into place or may fall on the floor.

      • Rusty Pipes
        Rusty Pipes
        January 6, 2014, 5:56 pm

        He’s beginning to rival Rumsfeld’s “known knowns … unknown unknowns.” Maybe someone will follow suit and compile a book of Kerry’s sayings as poetry.

      • annie
        annie
        January 6, 2014, 6:38 pm

        lol! thanks for the laugh rusty.

      • ritzl
        ritzl
        January 6, 2014, 6:49 pm

        @Rusty – Autotune! :)

      • Kathleen
        Kathleen
        January 7, 2014, 8:25 am

        Rusty while I was reading I thought the very same thing.
        https://www.google.com/search?q=Rumsfeld+known+knowns&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=np&source=hp
        There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.

        Donald Rumsfeld

      • LeaNder
        LeaNder
        January 7, 2014, 10:23 am

        I liked that too, Annie. Makes matters even more difficult when all the pieces of the puzzle additionally have a will of their own, and may or may not decide not to fall into place but jumps to the floor and walks away. ;)

        But I don’t think there are speech writers for press briefings.

      • annie
        annie
        January 7, 2014, 10:42 am

        I don’t think there are speech writers for press briefings.

        really?

      • LeaNder
        LeaNder
        January 7, 2014, 12:34 pm

        Annie, imagine the enormous brainstorming that would be necessary to prepare fixed answers to specific questions. I once witnessed some type of danger management in this context. In other words the upper layers did not completely trust their press speaker to not make a mistake.

        Now politicians are trained to do that early, which made me wonder about the specific blunder in Syria which got Russia involved.

        Consider: The talks are necessarily very, very private so that is all a politician needs, really. The best chance to revert to commonplace.

        At least that is what this feels to me.

      • annie
        annie
        January 7, 2014, 12:55 pm

        imagine the enormous brainstorming that would be necessary to prepare fixed answers to specific questions.

        he probably has a team that brainstorms on all the possible questions based on the days activities. you see this all the time at WH press briefings. for example, if there’s a big CW attack in syria they anticipate not only their response but also pushback against their response. and then they plan how to address that pushback. the WH press secretary’s always have a pile of notes in front of them and sometimes you can see them shuffling and reading from them, or attempt to appear to be not reading. so for a politician going into a press briefing that’s going to be closely scrutinized it’s likely kerry has a team that prepares a planned response, in coordination w/him. it’s highly doubtful he came up w/puzzle/pieces/mosaic thing on the fly as an improvisation on the spot. he knew what would be asked and he probably had either an assistant or a team prepare this. it’s just a long explanation of what he’s said before.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        January 7, 2014, 2:05 pm

        So, LeaNder, you think Kerry made an intentional blunder? Or do you think he just got trapped in his own spontaneous vague chattiness geared to cloud things up, as usual?

      • LeaNder
        LeaNder
        January 7, 2014, 5:01 pm

        He no doubt is prepared Annie. Obviously. Strictly I do not even know the precise context. ;)

        So, LeaNder, you think Kerry made an intentional blunder?

        Well obviously, he was fixed on in love with his core image: puzzle, pieces of a puzzle, but yes, I think he plundered when he gave agency to single pieces. I love it anyway:

        I cannot tell you when particularly the last pieces may decide to fall into place or may fall on the floor and leave ….

        Remember his statement concerning Syria, something on which Russia acted rather brsikly? The above is only slightly amusing, but that wasn’t a bad after all. Consider me skeptic concerning the poison gas attack. Besides, I doubt some type of salafist theocracy is better then Assad.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        January 8, 2014, 1:32 am

        I’m glad Putin took Kerry up on what he said about Syria; I don’t think he thought anyone would.

  3. DaveS
    DaveS
    January 6, 2014, 6:12 pm

    I think these comments are being a little unfair to Kerry. How many people could spew out such a lengthy extemporaneous answer that says absolutely nothing? Doesn’t he deserve some credit for that?

    • just
      just
      January 6, 2014, 6:27 pm

      It was indeed astonishing.

      Something to behold.

    • annie
      annie
      January 6, 2014, 6:42 pm

      yeah, a real accomplishment. it reminds me how i used to try stretching out sentences when writing book reports in high school.

      so here’s just one paragraph with all the extemporaneous words omitted.

      SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me share with you as best I can sort of how this is working and why I am not going to go into the details. I have shared with you that we are talking about all of the core issues, and you know that. You all have traveled out here many times. And you know that the core issues involve territory and the core issues involve security, and they involve refugees and they involve the question of recognition for both peoples and involves, obviously, ultimately, questions about Jerusalem and how you resolve all claims and the conflict itself.

      • David Doppler
        David Doppler
        January 6, 2014, 7:48 pm

        Kerry is wordy, but you’ve laid it out: territory, security, refugees, Jerusalem, resolve claims, and buy peace. It may be impossible to reach an agreement, but having him go public on details before they get to yes on the framework would certainly complicate the process no end. Give him a break on needing secrecy.

        Within the framework as you’ve summarized it: Security can be addressed. Territory can be swapped, Jerusalem can be allocated (or not), and money can compensate for disproportionate allocations of territory and/or losses (payment of claims) for the refugees and the loser in the territorial swap game. Money to the refugees, money to those displaced by settlors, money to the new Palestinian state.

        I don’t know if it will work, but I like that so many hardliners are attacking Kerry, and Netanyahu and Lieberman seem to be on board.

        Of all the issues, Jerusalem, and specific part of the settled occupied territory are unique and may not be compensable by mere dollars or shekels. The murderous tendencies of various extremists on both sides are also implacable obstacles. It will take some major shock to everyone to change their somatic state from murder-the-bastards to, okay, let’s celebrate peace together. Kind of a reverse shock and awe – like Mandela bringing the World Cup of rugby to South Africa and the team then delivering a world championship. Don’t know what it could be, but we should all watch closely. This is going to get very interesting, unless and until it falls apart.

      • ahhiyawa
        ahhiyawa
        January 7, 2014, 8:45 am

        I agree with everything you said, excepting that when “it falls apart” (and it will) it will be just as interesting as had Kerry’s diplomatic mission succeeded. I believe this current effort is different from past attempts because it appears Israelis and Palestinians are viscerally and openly opposed to the SoS’s proposals, whatever they are, notwithstanding the leaks and acrimony from both sides. There’s no question about it, neither side likes what they are hearing.

        As for Kerry, his artful dissembling in managing to say everything, but admit to nothing short of lying is why this guy was a Senator for 28 years! Considering how he publicly frames these secret negotiations, presenting himself as the only happy and cheerful face in the crowd while everyone else is anything but cheerful, I doubt that failure to accomplish anything will adversely stick to this guy.

      • annie
        annie
        January 7, 2014, 2:21 pm

        smart ahhiyawa.

      • annie
        annie
        January 7, 2014, 10:41 am

        money can compensate for disproportionate allocations of territory and/or losses (payment of claims) for the refugees and the loser in the territorial swap game. Money to the refugees, money to those displaced by settlors, money to the new Palestinian state.

        really? don’t you think if money could have solved this issue it would have been over decades ago?

      • David Doppler
        David Doppler
        January 7, 2014, 6:17 pm

        Annie,

        I don’t think Israel has wanted to solve the issue, in the past, see Rabin’s assassination, and the political movement his effort to close a peace deal generated, bringing Likud to power. See the Clean Break paper. I think delay has been tactically used by Israel/Likud to strengthen its facts on the ground, as have encouraging the US to decimate various Muslim neighbor countries. These tactics seem to be running down, even in the view of prominent Israelis, from the Peacekeepers (“winning all the battles, losing the war”), many former Neocon echo chambers in the US, even Dersh was quoted some time ago telling Israel it is irreversibly losing the hasbara campaign. BDS is growing daily, efforts to contain it are ineffective and may backfire. When Netanyahu and Lieberman appear to be preparing the country for a deal, it starts to look possible, and the only way the various issues can come together in a way that will be palatable to Palestinians, the Arab world, and Israel, including its settlers, is with significant land swaps, and cash compensation to buy off all those who get or who have been shorted by Israel. What? is Israel going to continue down this path because the dollar/shekel price is too dear? Peace and good standing for Israel in the world is worth a lot of money. Security, the land surrounding much the settlements, expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Arab Israelis, peace, a return to good standing, are all worth a great deal, would pay for themselves many times over decades of peace.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        January 7, 2014, 11:04 am

        “money can compensate for disproportionate allocations of territory and/or losses (payment of claims) for the refugees and the loser in the territorial swap game. Money to the refugees, money to those displaced by settlors, money to the new Palestinian state.”

        LMAO. You think that the zionist state is going to properly compensate anyone for their crimes??? Remember, when they committed their crime against humanity in 1967 and liquidated the Moroccan quarter in al-Quds, murdering a woman and destroying a mosque from the time of Salah-ad-din in the process, they “compensated” their victims, for destroy their lives, their homes, and their cultural treasure by paying them less than $200.

    • Shmuel
      Shmuel
      January 7, 2014, 8:25 am

      How many people could spew out such a lengthy extemporaneous answer that says absolutely nothing? Doesn’t he deserve some credit for that?

      I’m thinking a Nobel for mixed metaphors: “… steeped … journey … mosaic … puzzle … card … component … path”. Wow.

  4. just
    just
    January 6, 2014, 6:23 pm

    Here Mr. Kerry– let me lay it out for you.

    We and others took land, resources and sovereignity from the indigenous people of Palestine, and gave it to others. The Nakba ensued.

    We’ve encouraged more theft of land and resources from the indigenous people of Palestine since the original theft. The Nakba continues apace.

    We’ve done nothing to stop it. We’ve enabled grotesque violence to escalate.

    We pay Israel for these many crimes. We created and nurtured this Frankenstein, and it has run amok. It’s largely our fault, yet nobody in our government ever wants to take responsibility.

    That should solve the ‘puzzle’ for you.

  5. seafoid
    seafoid
    January 7, 2014, 12:50 am

    Now, this is deeply steeped in money , and one side has far more than the other and there is no justice, rather the Jewish side decided that each side would instead have a narrative about their rights and their journey and the conflict itself. And in the end, all of these different core issues actually fit together like money . It’s money , and you can’t separate out one piece or another.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      January 7, 2014, 6:50 am

      @ seafoid
      Which reminds me Pamela Olson recently gave us a good scoop of the staggering cost of Israel to America’s strapped, hard workers: http://www.veteransnewsnow.com/2013/05/19/223756-the-staggering-cost-of-israel-to-americans/

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        January 7, 2014, 9:53 am

        The median wage in the US has stagnated since the mid 70s. Send what you can to Israel where they have healthcare.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        January 7, 2014, 11:05 am

        @ seafoid
        Yeah. And looks to me like Kerry is perfectly willing to keep up the current age package to Israel, and then some, and add on top of that an equal sum, at least, per annum to go to a new rump state of Palestine that will effectively morph into two walled in Gazas.

  6. Hostage
    Hostage
    January 7, 2014, 12:52 am

    While the official explanaition is “[t]o avoid exposing the leaders to political pressures,” it is more likely to avoid jumpstarting a third Intifada.

    No, the fact it won’t be a signed document keeps it from being a binding agreement, so the whole thing is just a reflection of Kerry’s aspirations. But the Israeli coalition members have been given an ultimatum by Bennett that his party will leave the government it accepts even an informal proposal that gives any of Eretz Israel to the Palestinians.

    Heat is on Bennett as Kerry Paper Draws Near
    Jewish Home leader reportedly pressuring Netanyahu not to bring ‘mediation document’ to ministers’ vote.
    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/175972#.UsrdZ_i4WVs

    • annie
      annie
      January 7, 2014, 10:37 am

      hostage, i probably should have expanded on that part. there’s a lot of pressure netanyahu’s under because of the linkage factor going on now too. http://mondoweiss.net/2013/11/netanyahus-greatest-linkage.html

      as an aside, when israel is under pressure they use palestinians for their punching bags. like pre election attacks on gaza or instigating fitna in any number of ways. and even tho there’s a lot of saber rattling going on now over iran, i don’t think netanyahu is going to order an attack on iran to pump up support at home or divert from his coalition problems. but all this reminds me, wasn’t he under a similar pressure in the 90’s where he was forced to choose between the US and his base? and he chose his base and lost the next election?

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        January 7, 2014, 10:59 am

        hostage, i probably should have expanded on that part. there’s a lot of pressure netanyahu’s under because of the linkage factor going on now too.

        A few years ago we were told that, if Olmert’s people so much as touched a written Palestinian proposal, it would lead to the collapse of the government.

        I’m pretty certain that Netanyahu would get someone like Miri Regev to stir-up fake controversies, like that one, and employ it to stymie Kerry’s initiative, even if there weren’t any real disagreements in his party. That’s how this game has always been played.

      • annie
        annie
        January 7, 2014, 2:23 pm

        Miri Regev, you mean like the recent annexation. yeah, hmm, interesting. thanks. had not thought of that angle.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        January 7, 2014, 3:39 pm

        thanks. had not thought of that angle.

        Keep in mind that Naftali Bennett, like Avigdor Liebermann before him, was hand-picked by Benjamin Netanyahu to serve as his personal Chief of Staff. So Netanyahu had a couple of like-minded people/Kahanists at the top of his list of go-to guys, to look after his agenda and run his office while he was busy with the affairs of the Jewish state. That tells me that both men say things openly that Netanyahu privately agrees with and that it’s very likely they are serving as Netanyahu’s stalking horses to counter Kerry’s initiatives.

  7. giladg
    giladg
    January 7, 2014, 4:33 am

    Almost every time a world leader wants to leave his mark on history and make things happen here and now, the net result is a far more dangerous and unsettled world. And so it goes with Obama. He wants to leave his mark on the Arab/Israeli conflict. Kerry is doing what he is doing because Obama has told him to do so. The fear of Arab oil boycotts complicate the situation even further. Obama displays a naive arrogance in regard to who and what the Arab world is really about. His personal disdain for anything that smells of colonialism drives him with his head in the sand. To Obama, Israel is the colonizer. Obama refuses to go back past a certain time in history as if nothing happened in the land when there were Jews and no Palestinians. The Jews are indigenous to this land but Obama cannot bring himself to accept this. And so the havoc index jumps and will continue to rise. Thanks Barak.

    • annie
      annie
      January 7, 2014, 2:26 pm

      Obama refuses to go back past a certain time in history as if nothing happened in the land when there were Jews and no Palestinians.

      well, he’s not alone. generally politicians don’t go back 2000 year to set their agenda. and fantasizing the people who were there thousands of years ago are more likely jewish today rather than related to the palestinians today is a fools errand. there was no time with ‘no palestinians’ if what you mean by that is not related to palestinians today. zilch, none. this rationale of thinking in the bronze age or whenever that was is a joke.

      or was that the stone age you’re referencing? or some 70 yr time capsule we’re all supposed to privilege over every other time in history? it’s nuts. and i think obama paid due respect to jewish historical ties in his visit last spring. didn’t he?

    • talknic
      talknic
      January 7, 2014, 3:55 pm

      giladg ” To Obama, Israel is the colonizer.

      The UNSC majority (UNSC res 252 and eight subsequent resolutions), sans US, tell us Israel is the illegal colonizer

      “Obama refuses to go back past a certain time in history as if nothing happened in the land when there were Jews and no Palestinians

      LOL. You refuse to acknowledge that another people were conquered by newby Jews

      “The Jews are indigenous to this land but Obama cannot bring himself to accept this

      Do you have any evidence that Jews were ever a majority in the ‘Greater Israel’ region

  8. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    January 7, 2014, 8:30 am

    And the very solid “framework” of illegal settlements just keeps expanding.
    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/08/20138694140823658.htm

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