Palestinians leaders will likely table a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an Israeli deadline to set borders based on the pre-June 1967 line until after fall mid-term elections in the United States. Haartez’s Barak Ravid reports this week that while Palestinians have stalled, Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to prevent the initiative all together. As a last-ditch effort to stop the Palestinian plan, Kerry has sought to reprise his direct talks that collapsed earlier this year. Israeli officials abandoned that effort after the announcement of a Palestinian unity government and there are no signs they are interested in restarting talks.
Speaking with an unnamed senior Israeli source, Ravid revealed Kerry has lobbied Netanyahu for the past month to go back to the American sponsored negotiations to no avail. Kerry’s plan would amount to another round of talks to establish a framework for discussions, but no meetings on the substance of final status issues: borders, Jerusalem, refugees and water sharing. Ravid is pessimistic that Kerry can achieve what would amount to a breakthrough:
Despite all Kerry’s efforts, his chances of success are slim to none. He may be the last person in the U.S. administration who still believes it’s possible to restart the negotiations. His burning faith has led him to say things that are surprising and even embarrassing.
While Kerry begs Israel to return to the table Palestinian officials say Kerry has yet to approach them. “There was no offer, because he has nothing to offer. Israel gave him nothing,” said PLO Central Committee member Dr. Mustafa Barghouti to Mondoweiss, continuing, “The decision is done. The Palestinians will go to the United Nations Security Council. If we get vetoed, to which is 99.9 % sure, Palestinians will [then] join all UN agencies.”
Though, Dr. Barghouti did say that as “a favor to the Democratic Party” Palestinians conceded to push back their earlier deadline to file the Security Council resolution originally slated for late October. When asked for a specific date, Dr. Barghouti coolly said, “maybe November 5th.”
Dr. Barghouthi also confirmed that Kerry did make an informal request directly to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, but has not made a specific alternative to the Security Council resolution. This is likely because Kerry has been unable to get Israeli officials to budge. And so without a better scheme from Tel Aviv by way of Washington, Palestinians will move forward to sanction Israel at the United Nations.
Ravid’s reporting backs up this theory. His Israeli sources say the prime minister is not interested in talking to Abbas. And yesterday Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon reiterated that Israel has no intent in seeing a sovereign Palestinian state, ever. “We need to free ourselves of the notion that everything boils down to only one option called a Palestinian state,” said Ya’alon to Yisrael HaYom, concluding, “I am not looking for a solution, I am looking for a way to manage the conflict and maintain relations in a way that works for our interests.”
But even if they were presented with a silver-plated offer from Israel, Palestinians say they won’t talk to Israel unless there are commitments to end the occupation. “We’re are not going back to negotiations unless there is some change in the rules to discuss the borders first,” said Fatah Central Committee member Dr. Nabil Shaath. “To continue to negotiate while the Israelis are eating up land is like suicide,” he said.
“Let’s be open here. There’s no time for negotiations anymore,” added Dr. Barghouti, concluding, “it’s over.”
Palestinians are thought to have seven confirmed votes in support of their UN resolution, but Dr. Barghouti thinks they may have as many as nine, with France joining in as an unlikely supporter. Still what actually will be included in this proposal remains unclear. Weeks ago when the PLO announced they would seek a UN resolution at the UN General Assembly, Palestinian leaders told me that they had written a draft of the document in coordination with the Arab League and would set a three-month deadline for Israel to declare borders based on the pre-June 1967 lines. Then Israel would have up to three years to implement the plan or else Palestine would accede to the Rome Statute by joining the International Criminal Court.
But when I spoke with Palestinian officials this week, the text of the resolution seemed more vague. Dr. Barghouti wouldn’t say if the resolution would include language about land swaps, an issue that could make or break Palestinian territorial continuity in the West Bank and render the PLO’s resolution as carved up as Kerry’s failed proposal.