Martin Indyk, Australian-American former ambassador to Israel, is the chief envoy for US Secretary of State John Kerry’s Arab-Israeli peace framework. He leads almost all the Jewish American negotiating panel, including David Makovsky, a “mapping specialist” from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) affiliation Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP).
Indyk is now meeting with several prominent Jewish figures in the United States concerning his strategies while concealing them for everyone else. It was recently said that Israel is frequently complaining about being coerced into a deal despite the fact that they will get almost everything they ask for.
As it were to protest that “no good deed goes unrewarded”, Israeli leaders have castigated Kerry personally, leading to a rare reproach by Washington; while several right-wing rabbis have cautioned that the US deserves severe punishments from God.
In the mean time, Palestinian politicians will likely concede to American demands in favour of personal returns they will attain when the donor money starts to flow in following the signing of an agreement. The problem now is Palestinian people will get, as former CIA specialist Philip Giraldi called it, “the sharp end of the stick”.
Undoubtedly, Kerry’s primary aim from the beginning has been to achieve as much as possible for the Israelis while luring the Palestinians to agree to the bare minimum.
Even if Kerry wished to be an honest peace partner it is almost impossible for him to take that step because the Israeli lobby is very influential and pro-Palestinian feelings mean little or nothing at all, when it comes to US politics.
President Barrack Obama is contemplating holding congressional polls sometime this year and would be very hesitant to upset Israel’s allies. Hence, it appears to be more appropriate to keep the process limp until the year-end. If Kerry is lucky enough, there is a possibility that he might be able to offer the Israelis an uneven agreement that would somewhat limit the continuous settlement enlargement and just might initiate a provisional agreement that is unlikely to explode every few years.
However, it seems that the peace negotiation will eventually fade, connected to the American two-year election round.
There are a number of possibilities concerning what Kerry’s peace scheme might include. In his behind the scenes meetings with Jewish figures in the US, Indyk has pointed out that nearly 400,000 Israeli settlers would be able to remain in the occupied West Bank. A land swap would be provided in order to accommodate the settlements by offering the Palestinian people tracts of land that are now claimed to be part of Israeli territories. The transfer of population would be completed over the span of three to five years.
According to the plan, some amount of money would also be given to the Palestinians, especially those who were displaced by the Israelis following the wars in 1948 and 1967 in return for their surrendering their right to return.
Remarkably, the plan is also to provide some financial support for Jews who fled their homes in neighbouring Arab states, not because they have limited housing options, but to strengthen political backing, within Israel, for some form of deal.
At the same time, compensation would also be provided for those settlers who are required to evacuate their homes in the West Bank. The funding for payouts is most likely to be provided by Washington.
Furthermore, Israel is demanding that it is recognised as the “state of Jewish people”, a request which both Obama and Kerry seem to be agreeing to. Not very satisfied, the Israelis are also insisting that they must be allowed to possess military control over the Jordan River in any upcoming deal but this might be maneuvered into a US-NATO coalition army maintaining security.
If all of these appear to be reasonable quid pro quo understandings that would serve as a stepping-stone for further negotiations, that is obviously the objective, but the devil is in detail.
It is important to note that if Israel becomes an exclusive state for Jewish people, then Christians and Muslims are only citizens by sufferance, meaning that they possess limited rights in attaining redress for ruthless activities conducted by Jewish-Israelis, perhaps including ultimate displacement.
Continuing discussions on the ‘plan’ would also avert the Palestinians from heading to the United Nations this year because of Israeli and American fear that such development would lead to global support for the Palestinian cause.
Based on the plan, the Palestinians would also in essence be deprived of control over the major settlement faction that together eventually lead them to surrender Jerusalem and also partition the West Bank.
Israel’s plan to secure its grip by enlarging the major settlements was made obvious recently when it provided a green light for the construction of more than 550 housings in the East Jerusalem. This was a sharp rejection of the Secretary of State’s plan and the Palestinians’ right in spite of the fact that a deal seems to be inevitable.
Even if part of East Jerusalem is permitted to be the Palestinian capital, it will obviously be encircled by the Israelis and most likely only accessible by Israeli security protected roads.
The settlements beyond Jerusalem itself are mainly constructed on arable land which is why they are situated as they are, with secure water supply. In exchange, thanks to David Makovsky’s careful mapping, the Palestinians will have barren land that the Israelis refuse to have.
As Giraldi said, if the framework is signed and implemented, it would also mean a Palestinian state would possess very limited sovereignty. This is because the plan includes Israeli appeals for complete disarmament of Palestine and potential control of its frontiers, Israel’s supervision of water supplies and Israel’s disapproval of Palestinian control of an airport. There is also possibility for the roads which are currently only for the use of Israelis to survive in order to connect the settlements.
Taking all of these into consideration, it can be said that the creator of this plan is unfair and one side. In this deal, Palestinians are clearly losers. However, as Aaron Magid observed recently, given the limited effectiveness of Palestinian leadership, they have little choice besides a new recourse to violence, and Kerry will likely succeed in pressuring them to take what they can get.
Palestinians have nowhere to go in a battle with a powerful and cruel rival supported by the world’s lone giant. They have long become the victims of the Israeli occupiers, their leaders, as well as that of the superpower.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.