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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Why Obama-Kerry are preventing a Netanyahu-Abu Mazen meeting even though Netanyahu already conceded almost everything

In an earlier post, I reported that the Obama-Kerry junta has been preventing a meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen. Ben Caspit explains why.
While American sources claimed Abbas’ statement was “inaccurate,” senior Palestinian and Israeli officials alike confirmed that the Americans were not enthusiastic about such a meeting taking place. They believe it would be explosive and cause the situation to deteriorate even further. The Americans have learned from experience. They bear the battle scars of countless disappointments. They would therefore prefer to spend time preparing for such a meeting, honing positions, coordinating expectations and going for a sure thing.
For the past few months, the Americans have been very concerned that they could lose Abbas. The Palestinian president’s status among his own people is getting weaker by the day, and demonstrations against him are turning violent. A quiet uprising of sorts against him is already underway in the refugee camps, and it erupts every so often. In some instances, there has even been an exchange of fire between insurgent Palestinians and security forces. The last thing Kerry wants to see is Abbas resign or be deposed and have the West Bank slip into administrative and military chaos. He’s already had enough problems like that.
The real drama is taking place behind the scenes on various fronts. Kerry met recently with the leader of the Israeli opposition, Knesset member and Zionist Camp head Isaac Herzog. While both sides deny they discussed the political situation, it is quite safe to assume that they did not skip over the topic.
Herzog is in the middle of advanced negotiations to join the current government.
Netanyahu made him a very tempting offer in which Herzog’s party would receive the Foreign, Defense and Justice ministries. Herzog does want to join the government. He knows that the position of defense minister (offered for just half a term, in another year and a half) could help him overcome his image as a weakling and give him that special something he needs to become prime minister. Before he can join, however, he will have to convince his own party’s Central Committee to extend his term as chairman until late 2017. That is what Netanyahu wants in exchange for the deal. The prime minister is not willing to forego all these strategic assets only to see Herzog deposed a few months later and replaced with a new party chair who will lead the Zionist Camp out of the coalition. If that happened, Netanyahu would be exposed in every direction.
Kerry and the peace team he put together (which has since come apart) are committed to achieving something. They have no interest in leaving the negotiations in ruins. It is quite possible he would prefer that negotiations were renewed after Herzog joins Netanyahu’s government and leads it to the political center. Not only is Netanyahu’s current government incapable of conducting negotiations, it wouldn’t last the first 15 minutes. Bringing 24 new Knesset members from the center-left into the coalition would turn this government into something very different. I assume that Kerry is kept abreast of the secret contacts between Herzog and Netanyahu and is keeping his fingers crossed for them.
But there is another issue that is even more significant. On Sept. 2, Al-Monitor revealed that in his meeting with Abbas on March 17, 2014, President Barack Obama handed Abbas a proposal for a framework agreement with Israel. This proposal was based on an earlier draft of a framework agreement reached between the Israelis and the Americans. That agreement was the outcome of intense negotiations between Kerry, Netanyahu and their respective staffs, conducted over many long weeks via video conferencing. The talks took place on an almost daily basis and lasted for hours. They eventually resulted in a very volatile document in which Netanyahu agreed to create a mechanism to rehabilitate the Palestinian refugees. He even agreed to take in a limited number of refugees (to be determined by Israel), as well as to the principle of the 1967 borders serving as the basis for each state (with land swaps).
The one point that Netanyahu refused to concede was the status of Jerusalem. The Americans inserted an especially explosive clause (making Jerusalem the capital of two states) and presented it to Abbas.
The Palestinian leader has been true to form and has yet to respond to Obama’s proposal. Kerry seems concerned that in any potential meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas, this draft will be raised for discussion. The ensuing explosion would be nuclear. There is no way Netanyahu could survive politically once that happened. When the Americans informed the Israelis about their changes to the draft, the Israelis responded with a shrug. Netanyahu’s adviser, attorney Yitzhak Molcho, told the Americans, “You can add whatever you want. The Palestinians will still say no.”
So Netanyahu has already conceded the 1967 lines (1949 armistice lines) as a 'basis for negotiations,' has already conceded '100% land swaps,' has already conceded the 'right of return,' but hasn't yet conceded Jerusalem. The difference between Netanyahu and Olmert 2008 or Barak 2000 is... quite small. 

Aren't you glad we elected a 'right wing government'?

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At 11:22 PM, Blogger Empress Trudy said...

Obama is still trying to topple the Israeli government. But even if he did, there's no one short of Hamas who agrees with Obama, not even the far left in Israel. So it's unlikely to yield any results. Or, you could look at as Obama simply working against Israel and preventing any progress at all because like the Arab world, he needs them to not succeed.

At 10:23 AM, Blogger Rob said...

The source, al-Monitor is one I have found factually challenged in the past.Just saying.

I doubt Netanyahu conceded anything like this, since there's nothing in it for him politically. or for Israel. Or that Buji will join the coalition.

But I suppose we'll see.


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