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U.S. 'security plan': Another decisive cave-in to Netanyahu

Once again, the Obama administration hangs Abbas and the Palestinian Authority out to dry. 

Halfway through the scheduled nine-month Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, there’s been a break in the action, or rather the inaction: the Obama administration, once again, has sought to end the deadlock by backing Netanyahu’s illegitimate demands and hanging the Palestinians out to dry. Last Friday the Americans presented a “security plan” (“security” in the American lexicon means security for Israelis, not Palestinians) that calls for Israeli troops to remain in the Jordan Valley – in the West Bank, in a future Palestine, on the Palestinian side of their border with Jordan – as part of the peace treaty.

The time period in which an Israeli military presence along the Jordan River will remain is long,” a senior Israeli official told Haaretz. “More than three to four years.”

The Palestinian Authority hasn’t responded officially to the plan, but an unnamed Palestinian official was quoted saying it wasn’t acceptable because it would extend the occupation – Israeli control over Palestinian territory.

The plan also calls on a future Palestinian state to be denied the right to military weaponry beyond the needs of a police and anti-terror force, and gives control of a future Palestine’s borders to a joint Israeli-Palestinian team, possibly with Americans also involved, according to Haaretz.

Read +972’s full coverage of Kerry’s peace process

This is ridiculous. This is a security plan that comes at the cost of Palestinian independence and sovereignty. A country required to tolerate former enemy troops on its soil and at its border crossings, and that’s barred from having an army, is not an independent, sovereign state. Certainly not when it stands next door to the regional military superpower that’s been subjugating it for a half-century. Imagine what Israel would say to a security plan that left it without an army, with Palestinian troops sharing authority with the IDF at the border crossings into Israel, and with Palestinian troops on the Israeli side of the Israeli-Jordanian border.

That’s what U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry just proposed to the Palestinians – Kerry, that true believer in the “two-state solution.”

The security plan is what Netanyahu has been waiting for. Since the talks with the Palestinians started in August, there has been no movement at all; the Palestinians, whose position remains where it left off in the abortive 2007-2008 Annapolis talks, are waiting for Netanyahu to present his “map” of where Israel should end and Palestine begin, which he hasn’t done, insisting all along that he needs security guarantees first. And now the Americans have appeased him.

Kerry did the exact same sort of thing to get the talks started in April: the Palestinians were demanding Israel’s commitment to negotiate on the basis of the ’67 borders, as well as a settlement freeze for the duration of the talks, before agreeing to negotiate. Netanyahu balked, and the talks looked like they’d never get started, and then at the last minute Kerry threw his weight behind Bibi’s position. This left the Palestinians to either enter the talks with Israel remaining free to occupy and settle forever, or stay out and lose U.S. and possibly European funding while catching the blame for torpedoing the process. And so the Palestinians agreed. And in exchange for their consent to negotiate, they retained U.S. and European aid, and gained the release of a few dozen long-term Palestinian prisoners.

But they were also left to bear the ongoing humiliation of sitting at the negotiating table with Israel while Israel has set out on further, massive settlement expansion, maintained the occupation in full force, including the killing of unarmed Palestinians, and offered the Palestinians no land, settlement evacuation or sovereignty whatsoever. And now, with this U.S. security plan, the Palestinians are being asked to sign away their independence and sovereignty in a final agreement.

I don’t think there’s any possibility PA President Mahmoud Abbas will agree to this plan. But he doesn’t want to walk away from the negotiations and pay the consequences; he wants to stay at the table until the nine-month deadline is up in April, and after that he would be free, albeit in the face of U.S. opposition, to challenge the occupation further via the United Nations, possibly by taking Israel to The Hague. Abbas shouldn’t have too much trouble parrying the security plan; he can tell Kerry he’s not going to meet Netanyahu’s demands before Netanyahu meets any of his, which is an unimpeachable position, and Netanyahu, of course, has no intention of meeting Abbas’ demands. So the Palestinians should be able to ride out these talks for another four months until they end. And then we’ll see.

But the hope I had that Kerry would ultimately put most of the blame for the negotiations’ failure on Israel, a hope that was born with his startling TV interview last month (“Does Israel want a third intifada?”), is finished. Kerry can’t blame Netanyahu as the rejectionist after Kerry’s own plan was first rejected, or at least not accepted, by Abbas. Supposedly the Obama administration is putting together a full-blown peace proposal, including all the elements, to present to both sides next month. But with this security plan being part of it, Abbas will not be able to accept any such overall peace proposal, and since Abbas won’t accept it, Netanyahu will be under no compulsion to do so, either.

So when these negotiations finally end in failure, Kerry will do what American statesmen before him have done: either blame both sides equally or blame the Palestinians a little more. And the status quo, the occupation, will be nine months older and several thousand planned settlement homes stronger.

This new U.S. security plan is another decisive cave-in to Netanyahu by the Obama administration. It follows the one in April on the ’67 borders and settlement freeze, which followed Obama’s repeated opposition to Palestinian statehood in the United Nations, which followed his abandonment of the settlement freeze demand early in his first term. I hope the settlers name one of their new neighborhoods “Ramat Obama” and another one “Givat Kerry”; with a little bit of nudging from Israel’s friends in Washington, I’m sure these two American idealists can be persuaded to fly in for the cornerstone-laying ceremonies and smile as they dig the first shovelfuls of dirt.

A pro-Israel hawk to draft Kerry’s peace plan?
How 24,000 new settlement homes allowed Netanyahu to save face
Is the Obama administration cooking up ‘Oslo 3’?

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    1. sh

      “… and since Abbas won’t accept it, Netanyahu will be under no compunction to do so, either”
      – I think that should read compulsion.

      I read in a South African Zionist Federation obituary today that Nelson Mandela, in his book “Long Walk to Freedom”, wrote that he drew his inspiration for the ANC’s armed struggle from Begin’s book “The Revolt”. I suggest we stop despairing. Truth is much stranger than fiction and justice will eventually prevail either with the help of, or in spite of, Kerry and Obama.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Indeed. Justice will eventually prevail. The Palestinians will eventually accept living in peace next to Israel rather than continuing to insist on trying to destroy it.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Kolumn9

      Last time I checked American troops are still in Japan and Germany…

      Reply to Comment
      • Under very restricted operative power, and with promise to prosecute upon transgressions of US soldiers. Neither applies to the IDF–nor really will.

        I think the later, prosecution, is possible in principle, but the last two Israeli governments, nor the IDF as such, have shown any willingness to go there. Given the shootings of just the last few days, I’d say you have an up hill case on your hands.

        Reply to Comment
    3. The US takes the threat of militancy very seriously and agrees, with Israel, that a solely PA controlled border would be porous. The suicide bombings are still controlling all. This security definition makes Two States impossible. Even if Abbas et al agreed, they would soon find the IDF encroaching on their “sovereignty” for security ends. Threat is not realized threat, and the former will tend to expand over time, especially with such high levels of mutual distrust and historical bashing.

      The Israeli ruling coalition sees settlement as part of security, security itself expanding to include a better life where one is. The White House disagrees but, because they do agree on porous borders, is trapped. Bibi et al have their IDF border security now; they gain little through an agreement, especially as they know that over time the PA will balk at its failing “sovereignty.” So the White House has to expose Israel to potential terrorism or do nothing; the latter will always prevail.

      One State de facto is inevitable, with PA bantus becoming less stable over time. For a country built on nationalism, it is strange that it ignores the long term implications of nationalism under occupation. I continue to see a fight for the rule of law as the only interm ameliorating hope.

      Reply to Comment
    4. John Kerry is no Avraham Burg to tell the truth to Netanyahu that by refusing to recognize Palestinian rights to live with dignity in their ancestral land – Netanyahu and other radical Zionist Jewish leaders are bring an end to Zionist dream.


      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Yes, yes. The perpetual nonsense about the Palestinian ‘right to live with dignity in their ancestral land’. Scratch just a little and you usual find someone that thinks that right consists of throwing the Jews out of their ancestral land.

        Reply to Comment

      Greetings, Israel continues to commit unlawful punishment and crimes against Humanity upon the Palestinian Peoples.

      It matters not, to me, what religion law breakers profess to follow; oppression, apartheid, occupation, theft of land, destruction of property, denial of Human Rights, murder, all of these are criminal acts deserving International sanction and punishment.

      The United States of America is obviously not using its power to resolve this decade’s long criminal occupation, instead, choosing to support Israel and this criminal enterprise.

      Thus the U.S.A. is also criminally culpable; AS ARE Nations such as my own, Australia, cravenly following the U.S.\Israeli cowardly unethical directive, o for a Government that speaks for us people.

      Religion is irrelevant; these criminal acts originate in the decisions and actions of the Israeli and American Governments.

      World opinion is near unanimous on this point; Israel and the U.S.A. is criminally culpable in the occupation and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian Peoples from the land which is their birthright. The Palestinian Peoples are an integral part of the great Diaspora of “Semites”; they have a claim to the land that none of the incoming immigrants can match.

      I call upon members of the United Nations Security Council together with The General Assembly, to re-affirm the many past resolutions condemning Israel, and to institute lawful effective procedures, by force if necessary, to remove all settlers from land internationally recognised as the State of Palestine.

      Such action would help restore the U.N.’s ethical and moral reason to exist, and remind all members to read again their responsibilities to the Founding Charter. The Palestinian question is deserving of resolution, not just lip-service.

      Further, that the United Nations creates a peace keeping force to stay with Palestine until Palestine is peacefully established,
      regards. THOMAS W. ADAMS.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Joel Wolpert

      If the area in the Jordan Valley was captured by Israel in 1967 following an attack from Jordan,why does Larry Derfner not concede Israel’s right of occupation there?

      Reply to Comment
    7. Average American

      Israel wants the Jordan Valley because that’s where water and fertile farmland are.

      Israel wants the West Bank because that’s where water and fertile farmland are.

      Israel wants its troops on the border with Jordan because Jordan is on the list of countries Israel intends to control. Same with Syria. Same with Iraq (to the Euphrates) which has already been done for them by USA. Same with Sinai (to the river of Egypt).

      Israel intends to control the entire original British Mandate, the original Eretz Israel of the Zionist Manifesto. And maybe a little more for good measure. Everything they do is for that. Nothing has changed since Menachem Begin’s Irgun.

      Reply to Comment