Secretary of State John Kerry has wrung a concession from the Arab League, which now says that some minor changes in the 1967 border between Israel and the Palestinians are acceptable, with small land swaps. This position would have been important if there were a peace process, since many Israeli settlements on the Palestinian West Bank are not very deep into it, and so could remain on that land if Israel relinquished some territory of its own to the Palestinians in recompense. All of this is a bit of a fantasy, of course, since the Israelis don’t intend to relinquish anything at all, and are plotting some way to steal all Palestinian land and resources and find a way to keep the Palestinians stateless or perhaps ultimately to ethnically cleanse them. Since the initiation of the Oslo Peace process, the Israelis have settled hundreds of thousands of squatters on Palestinian territory and grabbed almost all the water on the West Bank.
Hard line expansionist Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is said to be afraid that the concession means that Kerry will again push for a two-state solution. Netanyahu wants to grab all Palestinian land and resources over time.
Netanyahu is not the only one unsettled by this unwelcome outbreak of reasonable diplomacy. Many Israeli pundits in the Hebrew press attacked, minimized or ridiculed the Arab League announcement. Insofar as they don’t want a Palestinian state or to halt Israeli squatting, they aren’t happy about Kerry acting as though there were real peace negotiations going on. There were a few peaceniks who welcomed the Arab League statement, but they seem to be being outshouted.
The USG Open Source Center translates comments from the Hebrew press in Israel:
Israeli Writers Unmoved by Arab League Announcement, Note Influence of ‘Messianic’ Kerry Activism
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Document Type: OSC Summary
Israeli commentators on 1 May discuss the 29 April Arab League decision to embrace a modified version of their decade-old Peace Initiative with an emphasis on mutually agreed land swaps between Israel and the Palestinians. Most writers estimate that the Arab League announcement is not likely to cause a breakthrough in the peace process, and one prominent commentator notes that the United States’ “activism” on the issue is detrimental and motivates Palestinians seeking to “leave mark” on reality by carrying out terror attacks.
Activism of “Messianic” Kerry Motivates Palestinian Militants
Shim’on Shiffer writes in “Terror Raises Its Head” on page 4 of Yedi’ot Aharonot : “The security establishment refuses, as of now, to define the large number of Palestinian attempts to attack settlers in the recent period as the start of a third Intifada. However, officials in the political-security establishment are willing to admit that unrest can be identified under the surface — unrest that could turn into a kind of uprising. According to our intelligence officials, the activism being displayed by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who believes that an arrangement between Israel and the PA can be promoted, actually assists this worrying trend: It motivates Palestinian elements that wish to make a mark on reality by encouraging terror attacks.”
“On the Israeli side too, Kerry has difficulty finding buyers for his merchandise. People here call him ‘naive,’ and say that he is behaving in an irrational manner, even ‘messianic.’ Kerry’s interlocutors in Israel rejected with contempt the proposals he raised for gestures towards Abu Mazin. ‘We will not free prisoners and we won’t be anyone’s patsies,’ said to me yesterday a senior official who is involved in the talks. Moreover, officials on the Israeli side have discerned tension between the White House and the State Department. In other words, they understand that Obama shows no interest in renewing the negotiations. The US president, my sources tell me, doesn’t believe–unlike Kerry–that solving the conflict will resolve all the problems of the region.
“Similarly, the statement made by the Qatari prime minister, according to which the Arab League would consent to a land swap between Israel and the Palestinians, did not find an attentive ear on the Israeli side. More precisely, the only person who is willing to adopt the proposal is Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. But the justice minister has no partners in the current government. On the contrary, the Netanyahu government has a solid majority that is opposed to the two-state idea. And so the deadlock intensifies –and terror raises its head, as we saw yesterday.” (Tel Aviv Yedi’ot Aharonot in Hebrew — Independent, centrist, second-largest circulation daily) . . .
‘External’ Arab Initiative Has ‘No Meaning’
In Maqor Rishon’s editorial “The Seriousness of the Arab Initiative,” David Merhav claims that the Arab Initiative has “no meaning,” as it cannot generate a “Palestinian agreement on a political roadmap” that will put an end to the conflict. “HAMAS answers to Iran, not to the Qatari prime minister. Abu Mazin — who is dependent on funds from the United States, Europe and Israel, and lacks support in the Palestinian Authority — cannot afford to obey the Arab countries and risk an internal uprising that will topple the rule of the PLO. This doesn’t mean that a political settlement to the conflict is unattainable — but it relies on an internal Palestinian decision, and not on an external decision made by Arab countries.” (Jerusalem Maqor Rishon in Hebrew — right-of-center daily)
Netanyahu, Abbas ‘Can’t Reach’ Comprehensive Peace Agreement
In his piece titled “Nothing New in the Arab League Proposal” in Israel Hayom, Dan Margalit states: “It’s clear that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas can’t reach a comprehensive peace agreement. Perhaps they might be able to come to a partial, interim agreement, but neither wants to be the first to say so to the other. Discussions about real or imagined flexibility, like the Qatari prime minister’s statement, are helpful, while the renewal of terror, as seen at Tapu’ah Junction on Tuesday, is harmful.” (Tel Aviv Israel Hayom in English — Website of English-language version of Yisra’el Hayom, Israel’s largest circulation daily distributed free of charge; owned by American businessman Sheldon Adelson, a staunch supporter of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu; URL: http://www.israelhayom.com)
Ball Is “In the Palestinian Court”
In a commentary on page 22 of Ma’ariv titled “Hollow Initiative,” Eli Avidar, former Israeli representative in Qatar, states that “since the outbreak of the wave of revolutions known as the Arab Spring, the Arab League has been having difficulty functioning; its weakness was revealed to the entire world in the Syrian civil war.” “If the Americans need the Arab League to achieve a breakthrough, this is a sign that the situation is truly difficult. The ball is not in Qatar, it is in the Palestinian court. During his latest visit to Ramallah, President Obama asked the PA chairman, ‘what are you Palestinians willing to do in order to renew the negotiations?’ The administration is still waiting for an answer. As long as Abu Mazin continues his purge of the moderate camp in the Palestinian government, instead of making a commitment to the peace process, the chance of resuming meaningful talks remains slim. No festive declaration in Washington will change this.” (Tel Aviv Ma’ariv in Hebrew — Independent, centrist, third-largest circulation daily)
Reaching Solution “Almost Impossible” But “We Must Try”
Another commentator in the same paper, Ben-Dror Yemini, thinks differently. In a column titled “Say Yes,” Yemini writes: “This does not mean a dramatic breakthrough has been reached; the major contested issues are still on the table — the refugee problem, the status of Jerusalem, the security arrangements, and especially how to prevent the West Bank from becoming a branch of the Gaza Strip. It isn’t easy nor simple, almost impossible. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. On the contrary, we must try. It’s important to remember that Israel succeeded to flourish because it said ‘yes’ more often than not. The Arabs, and particularly the Palestinians, are down in the dumps due to their insistence to say ‘no.’ There is no need to trade places.”