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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Of course: White House selects Tom Friedman to reveal 'Kerry plan'

It makes perfect sense that the Obama administration would call on Tom Friedman to disclose the details of the 'Kerry plan' for the Middle East.

Here's why. Let's go to the videotape.

So here's what Friedman has to say about the 'Kerry plan.'
The “Kerry Plan,” likely to be unveiled soon, is expected to call for an end to the conflict and all claims, following a phased Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank (based on the 1967 lines), with unprecedented security arrangements in the strategic Jordan Valley. The Israeli withdrawal will not include certain settlement blocs, but Israel will compensate the Palestinians for them with Israeli territory. It will call for the Palestinians to have a capital in Arab East Jerusalem and for Palestinians to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. It will not include any right of return for Palestinian refugees into Israel proper.
Kerry expects and hopes that both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will declare that despite their reservations about one or another element in the U.S. framework, they will use it as the basis of further negotiations.
For this we're negotiating? This sounds remarkably like 'what everyone knows' the solution is supposed to be, and if we've proven nothing else going back to the Clinton parameters from the end of 2000, it's that everyone doesn't know.

From there, Friedman veers off into Fantasyland.
This is where things will get interesting. U.S. and Israeli officials in close contact with Netanyahu describe him as torn, clearly understanding that some kind of two-state solution is necessary for Israel’s integrity as a Jewish democratic state, with the healthy ties to Europe and the West that are vital for Israel’s economy. But he remains deeply skeptical about Palestinian intentions — or as Netanyahu said here Tuesday: “I do not want a binational state. But we also don’t want another state that will start attacking us.” His political base, though, which he nurtured, does not want Netanyahu making a U-turn.
Which is why — although Netanyahu has started to prepare the ground here for the U.S. plan — if he proceeds on its basis, even with reservations, his coalition will likely collapse. He will lose a major part of his own Likud Party and all his other right-wing allies. In short, for Netanyahu to move forward, he will have to build a new political base around centrist parties. To do that, Netanyahu would have to become, to some degree, a new leader — overcoming his own innate ambivalence about any deal with the Palestinians to become Israel’s most vocal and enthusiastic salesman for a two-state deal, otherwise it would never pass.
Well, yeah, the coalition would fall apart. But Netanyahu is not going to make that U-turn, because at this point, if he does, he will have no base in the Likud. And while Netanyahu saying no (which he will at least hopefully be smart enough to hold off doing until the 'Palestinians' inevitably say no - something that Friedman ignores) may precipitate Yesh Atid leaving the coalition, Netanyahu's alternative is to run behind Yair Lapid as Yesh Atid's number 2... and that's not going to happen.

Most Israelis (aside from those who never wanted a deal with the 'Palestinians' in the first place) would answer yes to all of these questions posed by Friedman.
In essence what Kerry is daring to test is a question everyone has wanted to avoid: Is the situation between Israelis and Palestinians at five minutes to midnight or five minutes after midnight, or even 1 a.m. (beyond diplomacy)?
That is, has Israel become so much more powerful than its neighbors that a symmetrical negotiation is impossible, especially when the Palestinians do not seem willing or able to mount another intifada that might force Israel to withdraw? Has the neighborhood around Israel become so much more unstable that any Israeli withdrawal from anywhere is unthinkable? Has the number of Israeli Jews now living in East Jerusalem and the West Bank become so much larger — more than 540,000 — that they are immovable? And has the Palestinian rhetoric on the right of return become so deeply embedded in Palestinian politics? So when you add them all up, it becomes a fantasy to expect any Israeli or Palestinian leader to have the strength to make the huge concessions needed for a two-state solution?
Yes, Tom, read the polls here. Most Israelis believe it's beyond diplomacy. Some of us have believed that for the last 20 years (at least). 

Friedman writes that if Kery says the conflict cannot be resolved, Israel will make a 'unilateral withdrawal.' The United States is far more likely to withdraw from Louisiana in such an instance than Israel is to withdraw from Judea and Samaria. It won't happen.

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At 12:21 AM, Blogger mrzee said...

Kerry want s Israel to "compensate" the palestinians for territory? How about the palestinians compensate Israel for 90 years of savagery and barbarism.

One thing Israel has to bring up in negotiations but almost cetainly won't, is that the palestinians have never honoured any agreement they've ever signed with anyone. And the international community not only ignores it, but assits and ecourages the violations.


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