Americans involved in Kerry initiative give interview indicting Netanyahu government and exonerating Palestinian leader Abbas.
Yedioth Ahronoth’s Nahum Barnea, Israel’s No. 1 print journalist, has a long interview on Friday with unnamed U.S. officials involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, giving their view of why they failed. The interview is quite a bombshell, as well as a historic document. (Hours after this post went online, Yediot translated the interview and put it up on its English-language website.)
The quote from the Americans that’s likely to make the most news is this:
Afterward Barnea suggested that the interviewees seemed to be wishing for an intifada, and they responded, “The opposite is the truth. It would be a tragedy.” The point they make is that unfortunately, recent history shows that Israeli-Arab peace only happens after war makes it urgent.
But the real importance of the American officials’ reading of the Kerry peace talks, which Barnea describes as being “as close as can be to an official U.S. position,” is that they place virtually all of the blame for the failure on the Israeli side. They especially blame the announcements of a combined 14,000 new settlement housing tenders, adding that they just learned about a massive expropriation of West Bank land for settlement construction, which sounds like a reference to a recent Haaretz report. “This doesn’t go together with an agreement,” the officials say.
Settlement as sabotage
They say they wanted the talks to start last July with a settlement freeze, but dropped the idea after becoming convinced that Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition partners wouldn’t go along with it. Now they realize their mistake:
Imbalance of power
But beyond the settlement expansion, the Americans said the power of Israel’s position and arrogance toward the Palestinians made Israel virtually immovable (except Tzipi Livni, who is singled out among the Israelis as a “heroine”), while it made the Palestinian side extremely frustrated.
Abu Mazen’s bitter experience
Israeli actions over the last 20 years – from the Oslo Accords through the Kerry talks – left Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) deeply pessimistic, especially about Netanyahu’s intentions, but...Read More