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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Oh my... Kerry's cease fire proposal (which he claimed didn't exist) totally ignored Israel's security concerns

A draft of US Secretary of State John FN Kerry's week-long cease fire proposal, which was unanimously rejected by Israel's cabinet moments before the Sabbath started, shows that Kerry completely ignored Israel's security concerns. The proposal treated Hamas as equal to Israel, and would have prevented Israel from continuing to destroy Hamas' terror tunnels.
The draft described the urgent need of "protecting civilian lives, ending all hostilities in and from the Gaza Strip and achieving a sustainable cease-fire and enduring resolution of the crisis." The draft said that as such, the two sides - "the Palestinian factions and the State of Israel" have agreed to make the following commitments, detailed in three subsequent clauses:
a) Establish a humanitarian cease-fire, ending all hostilities in and from the Gaza Strip, beginning in 48 hours [Sunday evening], and lasting for a period of seven days
b) Build on the Cairo cease-fire understandings of November 2012 [reached following Operation Cast Lead]
c) Convene in Cairo, at the invitation of Egypt, within 48 hours to negotiate resolution of all issues necessary to achieve a sustainable cease-fire and enduring solution to the crisis in Gaza.
The third clause goes on to spell out, in one way or another, Hamas' demands: arrangements to secure the opening of crossings, allow the entry of goods and people and ensure the social and economic livelihood of the Palestinian people living in Gaza, transfer of funds to Gaza for the payment of salaries for public employees and address all security issues.
Israel's demands were mentioned in the most general of terms in the phrase "address all security issues." There was no one mention of demilitarizing the Gaza Strip of its rocket supply or advanced weapons, and not the dismantling of the terror tunnels.
.... According to the terms of the draft, the Israel Defense Forces would not be asked to withdraw from the Gaza Strip during the cease-fire, but would be forbidden from continuing to operate against the tunnels it has located.
The final clause of the draft determined that "members of the international community, including the United Nations, the Arab League, the European Union, the United States, Turkey, Qatar and many others, support the effective implementation of the humanitarian cease-fire and agreements reached between the parties, in cooperation and coordination with the parties, and will join in a major humanitarian assistance initiative to address the immediate needs of the people of Gaza."
This clause bore no mention of Egypt – the country which borders the Gaza Strip, which has many vital interests pertaining to any cease-fire agreement to be signed, and which filled a central role in similar agreements in the past. Within Kerry's draft, Egypt's traditional role of supervising implementation of the agreement has been passed to Turkey and Qatar – two states which support Hamas and are hostile to Israel.
Last Friday evening, when the draft reached the Prime Minister's Bureau at the Defense Ministry's headquarters in Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and the rest of the security ministers could not believe what had been written down on paper.
The cabinet ministers, most of them familiar with the other and better American drafts shown to Israel over the course of Wednesday and Thursday, were in shock. The ministers voted unanimously to reject the document. Nevertheless, Israel decided not to issue an official announcement on the matter, so as to avoid embarrassing the U.S. secretary of state and burning the bridges at work. Instead, it was decided that Netanyahu would call Kerry personally and demand significant improvements to the draft on the matter essential to Israel.
Senior Israeli officials expressed great anger regarding Kerry's proposal over the weekend. Cabinet ministers described it as a "prize for terror," claiming that the U.S. secretary of state had completely adopted the positions presented by the Turkish and Qatari foreign ministers negotiating on behalf of Hamas.
On Saturday, apparently following his telephone conversation with Netanyahu, Kerry tried to patch up the damages caused by the proposal he submitted to Israel the day before.
Senior Israeli officials said that the draft presented by Kerry had been removed from the table, and was no longer under discussion. "We succeeded in foiling that document and now we are discussing other options," said the officials.
An associate of Kerry responded as such: "There is no paper and no proposal. The draft was based on the Egyptian proposal that Israel whole heartedly supported. So if they are opposed. They are opposed their own plan."
Curiously, in his press conference on Friday, Kerry claimed that he never made a formal proposal to Israel and slammed the Israeli media for its 'mischievous reports' that a proposal existed.
The press conference U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry convened [on Friday] together with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry was one of Kerry's most embarrassing incidents since taking office. And there were quite a few in the last year and a half.
A few hours before the press conference began, the Israeli security cabinet ministers unanimously rejected Kerry's cease-fire plan draft. Kerry, as is his wont, seemed and sounded as if he came from a parallel universe. He claimed to have never presented Israel with a formal offer for a cease-fire, slammed the Israeli media's "mischievous reports" and promised that Netanyahu's office will issue a clarification.
As if that wasn't enough, Kerry claimed he made significant progress in the cease-fire talks and said, deadpan, that the disagreements with Israel are purely on matters of terminology. Reality, of course, was completely different. If anything happened on Friday it was another deep crisis in trust between Israeli senior cabinet members and the American secretary of state.
Would love to see the US media nail Jen Psaki on this at tomorrow's briefing. Most pro-Israel administration evah?

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