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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’

EU Backs Off Condemning Settlements before Kerry Visits Israel

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has succeeded in convincing the European Union to back off from passing another critical resolution of a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, an indication that the international community is losing its patience with the Palestinian Authority.

The Foreign Ministers were expected to adopt a critical resolution on Israeli settlement policy following their monthly meeting in Luxembourg on Monday, according to the European Jewish Press.

Instead, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told a press conference that ministers had simply “reaffirmed our commitment to the two-state solution.”

Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Romania reportedly called for the more moderate statement while Denmark and other critics of Israel lost their initiative for a sharper condemnation.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas are trying to put the other in the role of “bad boy” if U.S. Secretary of State John Kelly does not succeed in arranging for direct talks when he visits Israel later this week.

Kerry Heads to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait before Visiting Israel

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Globe-trotting U.S. Secretary of State John Kelly has left India for Saudi Arabia and Kuwait before flying to Jordan and Israel later this week to tackle the issue of Palestinian Authority demands.

The Saudi kingdom is a powerful ally of the United States and is solidly behind the rebels in the Syrian civil war. Kerry and the Obama administration want to get rid of Assad and have come out in favor of arming the rebels but still are concerned that a terrorist regime might replace Assad, if and when he is ousted or killed.

“If the United States does nothing, and the rest of the world does nothing, then Syria is going to wind up in an even worse condition than it is today,” Kerry told CBS News from New Delhi. He said it would be even worse if Syria were to break up, “with radicals, extremists able to get a hold of chemical weapons and free to use it as a base to begin to conduct their operations again against the West and the United States.

Abbas Surrenders to Reality, Accepts Prime Minister’s Resignation

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

The Palestinian Authority “now you see him, now you don’t” prime minister finally got his way Sunday when PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas  accepted his resignation, two days after Rami Hamdallah reportedly retracted his “I quit” Tweet.

Hamdallah, was president of  the Al-Najah University in Shechem, was not happy being a figurehead, carrying responsibility without authority.

After less than three weeks since accepting the appointment, he saw the handwriting on the wall and quit last Thursday because of an argument with two of his deputies whom he had appointed.

Abbas met with all Hamdallah and the deputies on Saturday, causing reports that the prime minister agreed to stay on the job. Abbas’ failure to settle the rift left him no choice other than to accept the resignation, the second prime minister to resign in three months.

Salam Fayyad was at constant odds with Abbas and resigned in mid-April following the PA finance minister’s resignation, which Fayyad accepted but Abbas did not.

Fayyad was virtually hand-picked several years ago by the United States, where he learned and worked as an economist.

Fayyad added a bit of polish to Abbas’ crude but effective diplomatic war against Israel, which in his mind was so successful that he could thumb his nose at the Obama administration and put the final nail in the coffin of the American government’s international golden calf, otherwise known as the peace process.

Now Abbas has lost a university president as prime minister, on the eve of U.S. Secretary of State John Kelly’s fifth visit to Israel since taking office earlier this year.

So what did the folks at the State Dept. have to say about last week’s resignation?

It trusts the Palestinian Authority’s tremendous democracy, where Abbas has been serving beyond his designated term for five years with no signs of elections.

”We have a longstanding commitment to support Palestinian institution-building. And whatever happens, it’s important that the Palestinian Authority government remain committed to that effort of institution-building,” said State Dept. spokesman Patrick Ventrell.

Israel Bows to PA and EU Threat, Stops Building in ‘East’ Jerusalem

Monday, June 10th, 2013

The European Union, which is one of the Palestinian Authority’s biggest benefactors, has succeeded in forcing Israel from building even one new home of Jews in areas of Jerusalem claimed by the PA, although the number of new housing starts in Judea and Samaria has tripled.

No official building freeze has been announced, but reports of a defacto freeze surfaced at the beginning of the year and were confirmed Monday by Army Radio and by sources at the Israel Land Authority. Plans for Jewish construction projects have been suspended in eastern, northern and southern Jerusalem, all of which the Palestinian Authority says will be part of a new PA country.

In stark contrast, housing starts in Judea and Samaria tripled in the first three months of this year.

The Palestinian Authority threatened last month it would sue Israel if dared to build even one more home for Jews in what is popularly termed eastern Jerusalem.

The European Union then went to bat PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and vowed it would back a suit against Israel in The Hague, as reported here.

Now that Abbas and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry know that Israel can be successful threatened on the diplomatic front, it remains to be seen if Kerry can succeed in satisfying Abbas’ demand for a total freeze as a condition to direct talks with the Netanyahu government.

Kerry was supposed to fly to Israel in Tuesday but has postponed his fifth trip to Israel this year until next week.

Two totally unrelated reasons for the postponement have been cited by different news sources.

Kerry presumably put off the trip due to urgent meetings on the question of whether the Obama administration will begin arming rebels in Syria, according to the Christian Broadcast Network. It also noted that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu plans to visit Poland for two days this week.

The Israel HaYom newspaper said the reason is simply that Kerry wants to give Abbas more time to think twice and removed his pre-conditions for direct talks with Israel.

State Dept. Shows Faint Signs of Dumping ‘Peace Process’

Monday, June 10th, 2013

U.S. State Dept. comments on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s scheduled return to Israel this year offer faint indications that the Obama administration, may finally be getting ready to tell the Palestinian Authority and Israel, “Go fight it out among yourselves and leave us alone.”

No one is quite certain why Kerry is coming, unless he has some super-duper trick up his sleeve. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has dug his heels deep in the Saudi 2002 Initiative that has been developed into the basis of PA demands that there is nothing to be negotiated.

On the Israel side, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, one of the most senior and nationalist Likud Knesset Members, took it upon himself to say that the government is against a two-state solution.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was so upset that he called on the Sabbath to the Times of Israel website, which had quoted Danon, to voice his distance from Danon’s remarks.

The facts on the ground tell the story. On the one hand, Palestinian Authority Arabs, heavily backed by European Union and international leftist funding, have settled on thousands of acres in Judea and Samaria to stake claims and isolate Jewish communities.

On the other hand, In  the first three months of this  year, there were 865 housing starts in Judea and Samaria, compared with 313 in the same period in 2012, mirroring the nationalist influence of the Jewish Home party and its “partner through silence,” Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid party.

Significantly, the figures do not include areas of Jerusalem claimed by the Palestinian Authority and where the Netanyahu government has reportedly carried out a de facto building freeze since the beginning of the year.

Senior PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said Sunday following Danon’s comments, “I believe that a government that continues to tender settlements and rejects the two-state solution will not go for peace.”

So why does the Obama administration really think anyone is listening?

It does have an audience, limited but elite.

Only someone with the Ivory Tower view of President Shimon Peres, and there are still a few thousand like him, could actually believe that Abbas is sincere in wanting a peace agreement with Israel, even if all of his demands are met, while refusing to declare that Israel is a “Jewish state.” And only the same view could actually believe that peace can be achieved even Israel were to satisfy all of Abbas’ demands.

“It’s clear not only to us Palestinians but also to the American administration and John Kerry that the current Israeli government is not interested in the peace process,” Nimr Hamad, an adviser to Abbas, told the Associated Press. “The Palestinian position is clear. Israel has to be forced to stop the settlement activity.”

Abbas has long passed the point of no return, and Netanyahu, honest or not, can comfortably go through the motions of wanting to negotiate because he knows Abbas will refuse.

Is Kerry finally getting the message?

In Washington, the growing doubts among reporters of what has become a “peace process charade” have started to creep into the State Dept. comments.

In Friday’s daily news briefing, State Dept, spokeswoman Jen Psaki emphasized what previously has been stated as  a secondary clause:

“Let me just reiterate the larger point here, which is that this is between – this is up to the Israelis and the Palestinians to make the decision to move back to the negotiating table… But it is ultimately up to both sides, regardless of who else is involved on the outside.”

She could not even answer reporter’s questions concerning what meetings Kerry will conduct.

Kerry and President Barack Obama have said before that in the end, the Palestinian Authority and Israel  must decide if they want an agreement.

Kerry does not want to be another failure  following a long line off U.S. diplomats who have thought they could change the Middle East.

The smartest thing would be for Kerry to blame both sides and make a quick exit.

Is Kerry smart? Don’t bet on it.

PA Pulls Out ‘War Crime’ Threat if Direct Talks Don’t Resume

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Senior Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat threatened on Tuesday that the Palestinian Authority will carry out its threat to charge Israel with war crimes in the international court if it does not agree to direct talks for establishing a Palestinian Authority independent country based on the PA’s definition of borders.

He also said that it will be Israel’s fault if Palestinian Authority violence and terror escalates unless Israel agrees to its conditions for talks, which U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said must begin by Friday. Facing total rejection, Kerry already has asked PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for an extension of the deadline until June 20, according to the Palestinian Authority.

Erekat’s rhetoric is nothing new, and that is exactly why it may not work this time.

Virtually every American reporter who does not have an obvious agenda has learned that the Palestinian Authority has been twisting everyone around its twinkie for 20 years by making up its own rules of the game every time Israel is ready to play ball.

Abbas is assuming that Kerry will literally sell out Israel for the sake of continuing the dead, buried and decomposed peace process.

Given the grumbling social mood in the United States and the growing impatience of the American electorate for their government’s involvement in the quicksand of dead-end foreign affairs, Abbas is in for a nasty surprise when President Barack Obama finally lives up to his word that there is no sense trying to force an agreement when there is none to be made.

While  Abbas continues to say the “ball is in Israel’s court,” he actually has taken the ball home ever since he took the audacious move to tell President Obama to get lost while he went to the United Nations for a General Assembly resolution recognizing a Palestinian Authority state exactly as he wants. Jerusalem would the PA’s capital, Israel would return to the Temporary Armistice lines of 1949-1967, and millions of foreign Arabs would flood Israel and reduce the Jews to a minority.

Abbas figures that the resolution is a stepping stone is in his grand winner-take-all strategy, even though there will be no winner and no one will take it all.

After the General Assembly resolution, Abbas won Palestinian Authority membership on UNESCO and pulled out his “war crime” threat.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki then generously promised Kerry the PA would not seek membership on the International Court of Justice, as a “goodwill gesture” for Israel to think twice before rejecting the idea of accepting PA demands.

Al-Maliki said the PA was giving Kerry time to manipulate things the way Abbas wants.

Now that time has all but run out, Erekat pulled out the war crime threat again while crying on the shoulders of journalist and diplomats, saying,  ”If people like us don’t succeed to make peace with the Israeli government, what will the Palestinian people think?”

For good measure, he poured honey all over Kerry, stating that “Kerry’s failure cannot be an option.”

Kerry told American Jews on Monday that if the peace process fails, as if it hasn’t already, “What will happen if the Palestinian economy implodes? If the Palestinian security forces dissolve? If the Palestinian Authority fails?”

Erekat answered that question on Tuesday by threatening to charge Israel with war crimes, which is going to be chapter 2543, more or less, in the Decline and Fall of the Peace Process.

Arabs Stage Mass Protests Same Day Kerry’s Deadline for Talks

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

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.

Kerry Asking Palestinians for an Extension to Revive Talks

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry phoned Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas twice this weekend, as part of his efforts to revive the peace process, the Palestinian official news agency Wafa reported Saturday.

Abbas reportedly told Kerry that it is crucial that Israel releases prisoners and stops settlement activities.

Last week, Kerry unveiled a $4 billion U.S. plan to boost the Palestinian economy, but the announcement was met with a cool response, as an adviser to Abbas told the press that the leadership would “not offer political concessions in exchange for economic benefits.”

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Almalki estimated Friday that Kerry would fail to achieve a breakthrough before June 7 as Kerry had wanted.

Political advisor to the PA Chairman, Nimer Hamad, said that Kerry asked for the extension to complete his efforts to revive the peace process, a task that was to be completed by the end of thwe coming week.

PLO officials said last week that Kerry has been pushing Abbas to return to negotiations without an Israeli commitment to stop settlement construction, and emphasized that it is inconsistent with the demands of the Palestinian leadership.

On Friday, DOS Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters that Kerry had spoken with Prime Minister Netanyahu Thursday, and raise the issue of settlement expansion—which, in reality, come down to 300 residential units in East Jerusalem’s Jewish neighborhoods of Ramot and Gilo. By then, Kerry had only spoken once to Abbas.

Psaki said that the State Dept. feels that “these activities are counterproductive to the cause of peace. They’re not constructive.”

Last week, the EU’s Lady Catherine Ashton called on the Israeli Government to reverse completely its decision on the new units in East Jerusalem. What a way to break the hearts of 300 Israelis who had one the Housing Ministry’s lottery for those units!

A reporter asked about the report in Yedioth Ahronoth, that Kerry submitted a proposal to the Israelis whereby they can keep parts of the Jordan Valley.

Psaki warned against reporting “those reports that suggest there’s been an American proposal put on the table. From the beginning, this has always been a case where the ball is in the court of the Israeli and the Palestinian people. The Secretary’s obviously very committed to this. He feels it’s important for regional stability. There are many world and global powers who are very committed to this, but it is ultimately up to them to make tough choices.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/kerry-asking-palestinians-for-an-extension-to-revive-talks/2013/06/02/

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