Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has ordered all but one Israeli negotiator to cut contact with their Palestinian Authority counterparts.
Netanyahu ordered discussions halted between Israeli and PA representatives on all issues with the exception of security, according to news agencies.
In addition, all government ministries — except the Defense Ministry — are to cease any civilian and economic cooperation with the Palestinian Authority.
Only Israel’s chief negotiator and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, head of the Tnua party, was exempted from the ban. The moratorium comes in response to what a government official called the “Palestinians’ grave violation of their commitments in the framework of the peace talks.”
The comment refers to the PA promise made from the outset of the talks to refrain from unilateral attempts to gain membership in international and United Nations agencies, treaties and organizations until after the talks were to end on April 29. Last Monday, April 1, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas broke his word to Israel and the United States, signing and submitting applications to 15 international conventions following a crisis in the talks.
In response, Prime Minister Netanyahu warned earlier this week, “Unilateral steps [on the part of the PA] will be met with unilateral steps on our part.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry tried to smooth over new tensions with America’s strongest ally in the region after having appeared to throw Israel under the bus when he met with his own firing squad at a Congressional hearing earlier this week.
Kerry pointed the finger at Israel when asked why the talks failed, claiming “the two sides have taken steps that are not helpful,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in an attempt at “clarification” a day later. “At no stage did he play the blame game,” she claimed. “Kerry even noted especially that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took courageous steps throughout the process.”
But Kerry told the Senate during the hearing that the main reason the talks failed had to do with Israel refusing to free a fourth tranche of PA terrorist prisoners on schedule — a group that included 20 Israeli Arab citizens — preceding a deadline for completion of talks that had to date accomplished nothing other than release from Israeli prisons for 78 other PA terrorists, and no significant concessions from the Palestinian Authority. Kerry also slammed continued construction in established Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. In addition, he said, “Around noon, when they were to reach an agreement, 700 housing units in Jerusalem were announced and ‘boom.’”
As if the announcement of adding new housing in Jerusalem to relieve a population crisis in the capital, and construction in existing towns and cities was the true point of contention upon which agreed-upon negotiations between “professional” diplomats rose and fell.
The lack of clarity about the real reason for the crash of the talks is not being discussed outside of the closed doors in the capitals of the world, although every world leader understands the truth.
PA leaders do not want this millstone, the burden of forever having the responsibility for running this “independent state” — around their necks. They don’t know how, and they don’t have enough skilled people, properly trained to do it yet. And those they do have do not stay due to the corruption and intrigues that go on that pose a constant risk to their lives. It is a hangman’s noose that will eventually kill each and every one of them because of the risk of failure. So each is looking for different ways to escape it — and to somehow find a way blame Israel in the process.
If we are really lucky, perhaps America will stay out of this process long enough to allow Tzipi Livni and Saeb Erekat to walk everyone back from the brink, and just long enough to prevent any forced agreement or unilateral action being imposed on Israel in the near future.