This article originally appeared at LobeLog
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the outset of a meeting focused on the Middle East peace process in Bethlehem, West Bank, on November 6, 2013. US Dept. of State/Public Domain
There is an odd sort of atmosphere today around the soon-to-fail Israel-Palestine talks. A dramatic gesture by the United States, presenting its own security plans to both Israel and the Palestinians, has engendered mostly yawns. Yet the events of recent days have clarified the likely results of these talks, despite the ongoing secrecy around them.
Secretary of State John Kerry has apparently proposed that Israel agree to abandon the Jordan Valley (constituting some 20% of the West Bank and situated in Area C, which falls under complete Israeli control under the current arrangement) in stages over an extended period of time and subject to the “good behavior” of the Palestinians. The current plan seems to be that Israeli forces would remain in the Jordan Valley for ten years while Palestinian forces are “trained.”
Not surprisingly, the Palestinians, including PA President Mahmoud Abbas disapprove of this idea. But they do so in lukewarm terms, not wanting to offend Kerry, with the hope that when the April deadline for the current round of talks rolls around that the Palestinian side will not, as it was in 2000, be portrayed as the party who refused peace. Still, as former US President Jimmy Carter once told me, a continued Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley is unacceptable to the Palestinians. Indeed, it is impossible to say that an occupation has ended when the occupying army is still there. That should be obvious. Continue reading
This article originally appeared at LobeLog. For further illustration of this issue, see my article from November 15 at Souciant.
There’s a showdown coming, and the outcome may determine how the US runs its foreign policy in the Middle East, at least for the next three years and perhaps much longer.
The issues at hand are both immediate and long-term, and both involve an awful lot of “daylight” between the positions of the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government in Israel. The very top of the Israeli government, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and far-right “kingmaker,” Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Naftali Bennett, has launched a full-scale attack on the policies of Barack Obama. They have dispensed with the fiction that Israel is not a domestic US issue and have brought into the light of day the enormous influence they have in Congress. Continue reading
This article originally appeared at LobeLog.
Bibi and Kerry
The trick to finding an agreement between the P5+1 world powers and Iran has become clear: keep Israel and Saudi Arabia out of the room. (But don’t expect them to be happy about it.)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is touring the globe now with his message of doom about an impending Iranian nuclear weapon. “It will be tragic if (Iran) succeeds in avoiding the sanctions,” Netanyahu said in Rome on Tuesday.
That statement comes on the heels of his Meet the Press appearance where he said: “I think the pressure has to be maintained on Iran, even increased on Iran, until it actually stops the nuclear program, that is, dismantles it.” Continue reading
The talks between the P5+1 and Iran got off to a promising start. Not surprisingly, that doesn’t please Benjamin Netanyahu. I explore at LobeLog.
As much as I often heap scorn on Barack Obama’s foreign policy acumen, he is taking the right approach with Iran by pushing forward and taking advantage of the opening by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani while also trying to forestall the hawks by proceeding with caution. Israel, AIPAC and the Gulf States are not blind, however and they are gearing up for an all-out assault in Capitol Hill to sabotage efforts to resolve the sanctions and nuclear dispute peacefully. I examine at LobeLog.
Hassan Rouhani is on a charm offensive. Bibi Netanyahu and the Emergency Committee for Israel have initiated an anti-Rouhani crusade. What does it all add up to? I explore at LobeLog.