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Give the Palestinians a break, Kerry, and stay home

The U.S. secretary of state is pressuring the Palestinians to give up the one lever of power they have against the occupation.  

My fear is that Kerry will make good on his promise this week to return soon to Jerusalem and Ramallah, and that he will cajole Abbas into agreeing to talk “peace” with Netanyahu, on pain of being blamed for wasting the American secretary of state’s time and making him look foolish and impotent. Such an agreement would be a terrible setback for the Palestinians because not only wouldn’t they get anywhere with Netanyahu, but they would be obliged, as a condition of renewing the talks with Israel, to throw away the one lever of power they have against the occupation: the UN.

The Palestinian Authority’s threat to go back to the UN when the General Assembly begins its session in September, and to escalate the pressure against the occupation, above all by taking Israel to The Hague, scares this country’s leaders. By contrast, peace negotiations under the auspices of the now-tamed Obama administration are something Netanyahu has always wanted, even if it would cause him some difficulties with the raving fascists in his party and government. Such peace talks with Abbas would brake the momentum in Europe and other liberal precincts of the West to boycott Israel, whereas continued stalemate would keep that momentum going, and a Palestinian move at the UN in September, above all at The Hague, would crank it up higher.

So Kerry’s “peace mission,” despite his hollow good intentions, is a boon to the occupation and a misery to the cause of Palestinian independence – which is why I hope Abbas will stand tough against him. If Netanyahu was offering a Palestinian state on all of the occupied territories with land swaps, he would be worth talking to. But when he’s offering an Israeli-dominated, powerless Palestinian municipality in some undefined part of the territories, without East Jerusalem and with the IDF in the Jordan Valley, then negotiating with him is what Israeli right-wingers would, if the situation were turned around, call appeasement.

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    1. Richard Witty

      And, for the United States to abstain, to do nothing, would lead to hastened annexation of land and further institutionalization of the occupation.

      I’m GLAD that Kerry is trying.

      Thanks for pointing out that there is a risk. But, the greater risk to Palestinians is go independent of US mediation, as it is a greater risk for Israel to go independent of US mediation.

      Reply to Comment
      • Philos

        Annexation would be more honest then the current situation, which is supposedly “temporary.” Danny Danon, et al, might be regarded as nuts but I think they’re the most honest politicians in the world. When they say they oppose a two-state solution, are in favour of annexation and oppose civil rights for Palestinians they’re being honest.

        Reply to Comment
    2. aristeides

      The so-called “peace process” has always been about taking as much as possible from the Palestinians and putting a stamp on it. The job of Abbas, according to the US, is to be a quisling and ink the stamp.

      The fact that Netanyahu wants it is the best possible evidence that it’s bad for the Palestinians.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Rika Chaval

      Larry, there IS NO momentum in Europe to boycott Israel, and there won’t be any time soon. And I’m glad there won’t be.
      UN can not replace negociations, because there are too many items to be handled. Larry, you are wrong to incite Palestinians against negociations on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative. Because in the end there will have to be a regional solution to a regional conflict, and no UN can replace that.

      Reply to Comment
    4. greg nichols

      Horrible. Will no one ever stand up for the Palestinians? Why must go on? Too awful!

      Reply to Comment
    5. Laurent Szyster

      Momentum in Europe to boycott Israel ?

      Come over here in Brussels for a while, Larry, and see by yourself.

      The only momentum in Europe is about unemployment, public deficits and debts. And the next big item on Europe’s political agenda is the rise of xenophobic populism targeting migrant minorities.

      That talk about momentum for a boycott of Israel is bullshit. Livni knows it, you know it, everybody does: the vast majority of common people in Europe don’t give a rat ass about Palestine.

      Go on and “stand fast” with Abbas, that brilliant strategy worked so well for the last sixty five years …

      Reply to Comment
      • sh

        Really? What’s this then?

        BRUSSELS (EJP)—The Federation of French-speaking Students in Belgium (FEF), a body boasting some 120,000 students in the country, has called for “a freezing of relations with Israeli universities.”

        According to Belgian daily newspaper Le Soir, the move was initiated by the University of Louvain (UCL).

        Last December, the 2012 the General Assembly of the Louvain students voted for a motion requiring that their university take a “clear and progressive” stance by supporting “a freezing of relations between the UCL and Israeli academic establishments until they publicly recognize and denounce the violations of various international law conventions committed by Israel.”

        The FEF decision, which was inspired by the UCL students motion, stresses “the “gestures already made by their institution in favor of Palestinian universities” .

        The FEF, therefore, believes that “it’s now time to cut ties with Israeli places of learning, whether they be based around student exchanges or research.”

        The boycott motion was approved by 85 % of those able to vote”. 6 % voted against, and 9 % abstained.

        According to FEF president David Méndez Yépez, the universities members of the federation, include the UCL, the ULB [Université libre de Bruxelles], the UMons and the UNamur, have all made agreements with Israeli universities, such as Tel Aviv and the Technion, which are directly or indirectly involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in different ways.”

        “They are preferred partners of the arms manufacturer Elbit. They conduct research on the development of drones responsible for causing damage and destruction in Palestine, and their programs are used by the Israeli army,” he added.

        “This army contributes, via its actions to denying Palestinians access to knowledge and the policy of occupation, the Gaza blockade and colonization hamper internal mobility and also that of the student and academic population,” he told Le Soir.

        The Brussels Free University (ULB) last year recognized BDS, a group advocating a boycott of Israel.”



        Reply to Comment
        • Laurent Szyster

          That’s one of the few university student unions of Belgium.

          They also undoubtedly passed grand resolutions about Syria, the Arctic ice or any political topic that gather a wide and vain consensus in the well educated youth.

          Young politicians in Belgium are resolute to write big words about peace in the Holy Land ? Big deal !

          Now, let money talk:


          Every year the trade between Europe and Israel grows.

          The momentum Defner refers too exists only in the fantasy of “antizionists” and the firm but ineffectual resolutions of student union representatives.

          The rest of Europe could not care less.

          Reply to Comment
    6. XYZ

      You are quite right, the vast majority of people in the world counldn’t care less about the Israeli/Arab conflict, the Palestinians, the settlements and all the associated phenomena. The bleief that Europe is going to do the “progressives” a favor and perform a deus ex machina and bocott Israel for them is the rock-hard beief that “progressive” are the (self-appointed) concience of mankind and that that if they think something is important, it just has to be that all of humanity feels the same way.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Kolumn9

      Indeed. Kerry should go home. The Palestinian leaders are not ready to make comprehensive peace which would require them to tell their people that there is no second phase which would lead to the elimination of Israel. That is, that the conflict is actually over and all issues are closed.

      The Palestinians appear to believe they have options. The UN, the ICC, BDS and all that jazz. Sad really. In reverse order.. BDS is a joke. The most BDS activists can accomplish on friendly territory like South Africa is to get some goods marked with an additional label. The ICC is capable of changing the travel plans of some leaders if it actually does ever hear a case against Israel and that’s about it. Additional recognition at the UN agencies is somewhere between a neutral move to one which weakens the Palestinians. It grants the Palestinians no new tools while gradually achieving the state of Palestine legitimacy as a state without any need for corresponding Israeli concessions. If you told me 10 years ago that the Palestinians were unilaterally pursuing recognition of statehood I would have laughed in your face because of how useless and/or counterproductive this move is for them.

      Once the Palestinians exhaust their diplomatic options, are staring at bankruptcy, or are at risk of a takeover by Hamas or all three at once their leadership might come around. I would put my money on the bankruptcy.

      Reply to Comment
    8. […] of getting Bibi Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas in the same room, few people here seem to have much faith that Kerry’s shuttle diplomacy will lead to any kind of meaningful progress — let alone a […]

      Reply to Comment