Kerry meets Netanyahu: Israel demands illegal Preconditions for Continuation of Talks
Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) , – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Jerusalem on Friday morning, to discuss the continuation of the direct talks between the Israeli government and the President of the Fatah – dominated Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. The meeting was also attended by Israeli Defense Minister and former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya´alon.
After John Kerry, last week, stated that it was necessary to give the peace talks more time than the originally scheduled nine months, statements by Israeli officials increasingly stress the point that the scheduled nine months are insufficient to resolve all of the remaining outstanding issues.
Among the most contentious issues are, the Israeli demand that the Palestinian Authority would have to recognize Israel as “a Jewish State” before Israel would be willing to discuss the Palestinian refugees right to return, which is guaranteed by international law, but which Israel has consistently rejected since 1948.
The Israeli willingness to “discuss the right of return” after an eventual recognition of Israel as a Jewish State, however, does not reflect the right of return as guaranteed by international law.
Instead, Isreal is offering some of the refugees the right to return while it offers compensation in the form of payments for the vast majority of the displaced Palestinians, adding that Israel would demand that this compensation would be paid, among others, by the “International Community”, which is the UN, the EU, etc.
Another of the contentious issues is the border between Israel and Palestine. Israel suggests “land swaps” so as to keep most of the Israeli settlements, that is, illegally annexed Palestinian lands, while offering patches of land elsewhere in compensation.
While the suggestion could sound like a plausible or reasonable suggestion, a closer study reveals that the land swaps would make it impossible to establish a contiguous Palestinian state.
Effectively, the result would be smaller Palestinian enclaves, which are isolated from each other.
Two things which are particularly worth noting in this regard are, that Israel has increased its settlement construction, that is the annexation of additional lands since the beginning of the direct talks, and that a document which was revealed in an Israeli court reveled, that Israel effectively does not “designate more than 0,7 % of the West Bank for Palestinians“.
Another contentious issue is that Israel states that it, under no circumstance, will cease control over the Jordan Valley, and control over the border between Palestine and Jordan.
The demand translates into a de facto annexation of a large part of the West Bank. Moreover, it constitutes a de facto seizure of the majority of Palestine’s existing freshwater resources needed for agriculture as well as for sustaining life.
Yet another contentious issue is that Israel has seized absolute control over Palestine’s offshore reserves of natural gas in the Mediterranean, off the coast of Gaza.
Remarkably, neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authorities negotiators or spokespersons have brought the issue up for public debate via the media. The issue is closely tied into regional conflicts, including the ongoing war in Syria.
On Thursday, prior to his meeting with Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yaálon, also known as Smilansky, on Friday, Kerry met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, which has been the intermediate capital of Palestine since Israel illegally ousted the P.A. from the Palestine House in Jerusalem.
Abbas reportedly informed Kerry that Israel’s demand to keep control over the Jordan Valley translates into the failure to reach a peaceful settlement during the direct talks.
Abbas reportedly added, that the settlements which are built on Palestinian land must be evacuated, adding that the Palestinian Authority would be willing to extend the nine months period for the direct, that is US facilitated talks, if Israel’s wish to extend the period was based on the serious wish to find a peaceful solution.
The meeting between Kerry and Abbas did reportedly not take longer than half an hour.
The Palestinian Authority, chief Palestinian negotiator Dr. Saeb Erekat, and P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas in particular, are under intensifying domestic pressure to end the talks, which most opposition parties consider as being futile and dangerous.
The USA and the European Union on the other hand, who are among the primary financiers of the Fatah dominated Palestinian Authority, continue pressuring the P.A. to continue the talks, while failing to draw tangible political conclusions from the fact that Israel continues adding demands which have no basis in international law.