Palestinian Authority organizers in Ramallah and Gaza published on Monday plans for massive protests at the Temporary Armistice borders that existed from 1948 until the Six-Day War in 1967, on the same day that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has declared a deadline for an agreement by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Israel to resume direct talks.
The protests and the deadline are on Friday, June 7, which also is the anniversary of the return of the Temple Mount to Jewish hands after 2,000 years.
It might have been a brainstorm by someone in the State Dept. to choose the date as being symbolic for enemies to make up and live in peace with each other forever.
If so, it illustrates to the Nth degree how little American policymakers understand the Israeli-Arab struggle, let alone the entire Middle East.
If the timing was a coincidence, it shows how totally inept they are.
Organizers of the protests plan simultaneous demonstrations in Jordan and other Arab countries.
In Israel, Arabs have been told to arrive in large numbers towards the old borders of Israel that existed as the Temporary Armistice Lines until the Six-Day War in 1967.
Protests are planned at the Kalandia checkpoint at northern Jerusalem, at the Damascus Gate in the Old City, Rachel’s Tomb, which is several hundred yards from the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Jerusalem and which borders Bethlehem, in northern Gaza near the security fence, and at the Jordanian border.
Previous mass marches have been a total failure, but this time the stakes are high. If Abbas actually does back down and agree to speak with Israel without pre-conditions, his life literally could be in danger. If he does not, he risks the total wrath of the United States, but at this point, he might not care.
“Despite his good intentions, Kerry so far looks like a naive and ham-handed diplomat who has been acting like a bull in the china shop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” wrote Barak Ravid, diplomatic correspondent for Haaretz.
“It is a Lone-Ranger type of effort so far,” said Marwan Muasher, a former Jordanian foreign minister who is now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank, quoted by Reuters correspondent Arshad Mohamed, who covers the State Dept.
“The perception in the region is this is a process of buying time … that the White House is not serious about committing to what it takes to get this issue resolved,” Muasher added. “I don’t think people are questioning the motives of Kerry, everyone thinks he is serious about this – and he is serious about this – but he is just acting alone.”
That is the truth. Kerry is alone in the Middle East, a fish out of water.
When Kerry talks to Abbas, he is talking to a wall, a man who for eight years has carefully and cleverly carried out a single-minded strategy of ”all or nothing” while assuming that the world really loves the Arabs and does not simply support its agenda because it cannot stomach dealing with a Jewish state that is not downtrodden.
When Kerry talks with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, he is speaking with a man who knows that the State Dept. cannot see past its nose. Israel has dangerously played the “peace process” game with the assumption, proven correct for 65 years, that the Arabs will shoot themselves in the foot in the end.
On Friday, the best that Kerry can hope for is extending his June 7 deadline.
Maybe he will schedule the next one for November 29, the day that the United Nations recognized the re-establishment of Israel.Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu