Saturday, December 31

John Kerry's Departing Speech

After having heard John Kerry’s speech as objectively as possible, I concluded  that it was NOT anti Israel but anti settlement in the occupied territories. He viewed the settlements as an impediment to the Two-State solution.

Kerry laid out his vision for a Two State Solution and its advantages for peace on both sides. Many Palestinians and Israelis, as well as the Arab League, have stated that they would accept a two-state solution based on 1949 Armistice Agreements, more commonly referred to as the "1967 borders" [1 ]
Only a biased person can interpret the speech as hostile to Israel. He made a number of salient points, which were obvious and could be accepted by reasonable minded people. Kerry is one of the few diplomats in the Obama Administration that has knowledge of the conflict. He has been involved in trying to facilitate talks between Israel and the Palestinians under Obama’s tenure for many years. Unfortunately his efforts had failed for a number reasons, some of which are mentioned later in this article.

He is aware of the pitfalls and the severe problems involved. There was no hostility to Israel in Kerry’s delivery although one can sense a tinge of disillusionment and failure in achieving the goal of a Two State Solution. He saw the settlements as holes as in Swiss cheese that render the Two State Solution not viable.

He criticized the Israeli Government for this situation making the Two State solution impossible to achieve. A One State Solution would be bad for both parties and would only increase violence between both sides as well as threatening Israel’s democracy. He admitted that Israel has the most right wing Government in its history. The speech was a speech of disillusionment that spelt out doom if the Two State solution is abandoned.U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry unveiled broad guidelines Wednesday for an eventual peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, warning that a two-state solution to the conflict is in "serious jeopardy." [2]

The speech spelt out dangers for both peoples because of the settlements and their expansion by the Israeli Government.

Kerry failed to enlarge on the reasons why negotiations failed.There are no partners for peace negotiations. The Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas has its hands tied by Hamas, who is against any form of negotiation with Israel. They view Israel as occupied territory since its establishment.  If Abbas signs a peace treaty with Israel it will be “off with his head” as in Lewis Carroll’s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, (published 1865), The Queen of Hearts shrieks the phrase several times in the story - in fact she doesn't say a great deal else:
The players all played at once without waiting for turns, quarrelling all the while, and fighting for the hedgehogs; and in a very short time the Queen was in a furious passion, and went stamping about, and shouting' Off with his head!' or 'Off with her head!' about once in a minute.
Apart from that, all that Abbas can do is to utter hostile rhetoric against Israel on its intransigence. By doing this, he can drum up support against Israel and thus save his own skin by not signing any peace treaty with Israel.

Meanwhile both Hamas and the PA are raking in the cash from foreign donations for the Palestinians into their leaderships’ foreign bank accounts. They plead poverty blaming Israel for its intransigence and lack of progress while they themselves are becoming wealthy under the occupation. This is their livelihood. The eternal negotiator since the Madrid Conference of 1991, Saeb Erekat, is a professional negotiator and not doing badly out of it financially.

John Kerry seems to be devoid of reality and this reflects in his departure speech. He said the right things that are true and really indisputable. He condemned terror in general terms as if it's the settlements that promote it.

Even if there were no settlements in the occupied territory as was the case prior to the June 1967 War, an excuse will be found as it was then to destroy Israel. The problem between Israel and the Palestinians is existential. One needs to read the hate propaganda against Israel even before the Six Day War of 1967 to understand that. The Palestinian education system is full of anti-Israel hate as well as being anti-Semitic. The conflict is not only about land but about religion as well. In this respect, Daesh and Hamas share similar goals. It is unfortunate that Kerry did not touch on this subject in his speech as it really is the root course of the conflict. The settlements in the occupied territories is an added factor of course but the basic hate for Israel even existed before the occupation.

Businesses also play a vital role in sustaining the settlements, thereby facilitating and benefiting from Israel's violation of the international law prohibition on an occupying power transferring its civilian population into occupied territory and contributing to Israel's discrimination against Palestinians in the West Bank. [3]

Israel under PMs Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak, and Yitzhak Rabin did make serious attempts at peace, including land swaps, which the Palestinian leadership rejected. It is a pity that Kerry did not mention these. The freezing of settlement activity by PM Netanyahu for 10 months on November 25th 2009 was cosmetic and can be taken with a pinch of salt. The Palestinians were zig -zagging all the time by disagreeing with every Israeli proposal that Kerry avoided mentioning in his speech. He failed to recognize that the Palestinians do not recognize Israel's right to exist. It was all a show over the years. If they did, progress could have been made and even land swaps initiated to end the occupation and achieve a solution. This is the cold reality. Now with Hamas involved in Palestinian Street, the emphasis on non recognition of Israel is even more blatant. Now we have a dangerous stalemate, which will lead to more violence between Israel and the Palestinians with the Two-State solution receding from reality.

It is no use crying over spilt milk, but had there not been settlements established after 1967 and had Israel declared these occupied territories a closed military zone totally settlement free, Israel would not have been accused of colonizing territories and its credibility would be high as well as gaining world support as was the case prior to 1967. The occupied territories would be held as a trump (not to be confused with US President-Elect Donald Trump) card for a true peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians. The world would have pressurized the Arab countries and the Palestinians to make peace with Israel and the Two-State Solution would have had a chance of becoming a reality.

Rightly or wrongly, world support is always against the conqueror and for the conquered. The Palestinians are viewed as the conquered.

All that remains is to see how President-elect, Donald Trump will handle the situation and if he will stick to his pledge of being more settler-friendly. This is the last great hope of PM Netanyahu after he had been spraying invective against those who voted against the settlements and the US, who had abstained in UN Security Council Assembly.

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