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US: a powerless peace broker

January 23, 2014 at 5:29 am

Palestinians and Israelis have met more than twenty times since July 2013 with little progress. Israel security issues dwarfed the final status negotiators while it continued to build, at an accelerated rate, “Jewish only” colonies undermining the very peace talks.

Fearing its collapse, US Secretary of State John Kerry amassed earlier this month a team of 160 American diplomats and security specialists led by General John Allen, former commander of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan to draft a framework “that could help both Israelis and Palestinians get to an agreement.”

Inarguably, President Barak Obama and Secretary Kerry are much more serious on pushing a peace agreement than any previous US administration. Nevertheless, they have proven equally powerless overcoming Israel’s mercurial demands.

Since Oslo, Palestinians have endorsed all of the US and Israel’s pre conditions starting with UN resolution 242, recognition of Israel and annulling the Palestinian National Charter without any reciprocal recognition of their rights by Israel.

Today, Israel is requesting to prequalify previous Palestinian recognition of it, not just as a nation of people, but as an ethnocentric “Jewish state.” It is also demanding that any future peace agreement must codify its occupation of parts of the West Bank – Jordan River valley – under a euphemism called “security arrangements.”

In the meantime, the American administration who promised current talks would focus on reaching a final status peace deal by April of 2014 is already backpedalling.

In a speech at the Zionist Saban Center for Middle East Policy earlier in December, President Obama described the negotiations’ objectives to reach a “framework that would not address every single detail,” then referring to Palestinians he added “they don’t get everything that they want on day one.”

US mediating team led by an ex-staff of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has already championed Israel’s position urging Palestinians to forgo a final settlement and settle instead for a “framework” interim agreement.

Information from Kerry’s mid-December meeting with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has revealed that the US was on the verge of proposing an outline for an interim peace plan addressing “everything [Israel] wants” while pushing aside Palestinian sovereignty, the status of Jerusalem, and the refugees’ question.

Fearing a repeat of the Camp David meeting in 2000 – when then US President Bill Clinton adopted the Israeli position – Palestinians President Abbas briefed a special meeting of Arab foreign ministers on the impending American peace plan. Abbas informed the gathering of the Palestinian refusal to enter into another interim understanding, a new racialist recognition of Israel or any proposal favoring extended Israeli presence in any part of the West Bank or at the border with Jordan.

Following the 5+1 agreement with Iran, the US is posed to appease Israel vis-à-vis its professed security concerns. Indeed, conflicting reports have surface in the past few days regarding the American’s position.

The Israeli army radio claimed the US plan would include provisions for extended Israeli military presence in the Jordan River valley. Other reports however have pointed that the postponement of Kerry’s trip-initially planned for the last week of December- was to address strong Palestinian opposition which could change the proposal to replace Israeli troops with American soldiers along the border with Jordan.

More than twenty years since the original Interim accord, and fourteen years since the failure of Camp David, the illegal Jewish only settlers have more than doubled in Occupied West Bank.

Interim Peace II is likely to quadruple the Jewish only colonies and only change the Palestinian Authority’s role from a coordinator to endorser of the Israeli occupation.

Mr Kanj ( writes weekly newspaper column and publishes on several websites. He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.