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.
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.
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.
SECRETARY KERRY: I have a deadline in mind.
As our publisher might say “That’s diplomatic code for ‘F— yourself you petulant arrogant prick.’”