Netanyahu rejected offer by Kerry & Arab Leaders of Comprehensive Peace Talks

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Last year this time, Secretary of State John Kerry was trying to put together a huge peace deal between Israel and the Arab world, according to Aron Heller and Matthew Lee of the Associated Press.

The proposal built on the 2002 Arab peace plan, which offered Israel full recognition by its Arab neighbors, with trade and other ties, on condition that it give up the Palestinian territories it occupied in 1967 and which it is illegally colonizing. That 2002 Arab League initiative had been roundly rejected by then prime minister Ariel Sharon, who was from the same hard line far-right party, the Likud, that current PM Binyamin Netanyahu hails from.

The plan allegedly offered Israel full recognition as a Jewish state and Jerusalem as joint capital of Israel and Palestine, with peace treaties with a much wider array of Arab countries, and an end to Palestinian demands for the right of return to the homes in Israel from which the Zionists expelled them in 1948. In return Israel would have to withdraw from the West Bank, where it has hundreds of thousands of illegal squatters.

Apologists for the Israeli right wing are always going on about the alleged willingness of Israel to make peace if only it could find a partner to negotiate with.

Kerry was delivering to them large numbers of such partners.

Netanyahu turned the offer of wide-ranging negotiations down flat.

In a parliamentary system, politicians can only remain prime minister if they retain the confidence of the parties in parliament, many of which are typically represented on the cabinet. If several cabinet ministers resign over some policy, and parliament stages a vote of no confidence that the PM loses by a simple majority, then BOOM! The PM is no longer prime minister.

In March of 2015, Netanyahu had put together a government of the Likud, Shas, United Torah Judaism, Jewish Home, and Kulanu parties, giving him 61 of 120 seats in the parliament.

Given that Netanyahu got where he is by cultivating the most craven, corrupt, greedy and rapacious politicians in Israeli society, his cabinet is full of arrogant pricks who would much rather have the profit on a few square feet of the West Bank than a comprehensive peace. Parties like Naftali Bennet’s “Jewish Home” have core constituents who demand that Israelis squat on and usurp Palestinian land in the West Bank. It should be remembered that colonialism is big business, so that there is what Rashid Khalidi has called a settler-industrial complex.

Netanyahu toyed with the idea of bringing the center-left Labor Party (the main constituent in Isaac Herzog’s “Zionist Union”) into his coalition. With 24 seats it could have replaced “Jewish Home” (8 seats) and several other small parties.

But the Zionist Union isn’t all that left wing, and Herzog was then campaigning on the impossibility of implementing a two-state solution at this time, arguing that the Palestinians do not have the capacity for it. Since this is Netanyahu’s position, he taunted Herzog, saying “Good morning, Buji, welcome to the Middle East!’ Herzog also advocated building more walls and fences around Israeli settlements, and urged a “complete separation” of Israelis and Palestinians. So who knows, maybe Herzog didn’t want a comprehensive peace treaty any more than Netanyahu did.

The far right wing Jerusalem Post on March 16, 2016, warned in March that Israeli national unity would be necessary to block “dangerous” Obama Mideast initiatives. It noted that Vice President Joe Biden had visited the region and promoted an “initiative based on recognizing east Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital, an end to all settlement activity, Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and Palestinians forfeiting the Arab refugee right of return.” This is precisely the plan now being described by AP.

The Jerusalem Post sniffed that the Palestine Authority was inciting to the murder of Israelis (which was not true–that was fake news) and that no government could accept the Biden proposals because they would imperil Israeli security. Sure. A comprehensive peace with the Arab League states–now that would obviously doom Israel for sure.

Anyway, Netanyahu knew that if he brought the Kerry plan to his cabinet, they would reject it and enough small parties might pull out that he could even lose his majority in parliament himself, and so fall from power.

So he preferred not to risk his position of power and privilege merely for the sake of peace.

Let’s just acknowledge that the Likud Party and its allies on the right do not want peace with the Arabs and have sabotaged all proposals to that end.

If you keep rejecting peace, guess what you get?

——

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20 Responses

  1. Funny, I was just reading something over at the Wash Post site claiming an entirely different history, that Kerry’s initiative was doomed from the start as neither side –which this write defined as Netanyahu and Abbas — made any kind of move off their previous positions.

    I do give a lot of credibility to this report, but I’d like to see more Arab voices saying it did happen. The Arab league states, presumably led by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, etc., were really ready to co-sign a peace treaty with Israel ??

    Was it so tenuous that Kerry couldn’t even hint at it? If such a big institutional change actually was in the realm of real possibility, that would have been a game-changer, one leak of it would have changed history.

    A very intriguing story, obviously still developing.

  2. It doesn’t matter how careful a plan be laid before them, the only way to achieve their withdrawal and the return to coherent life of the erstwhile inhabitants is force. Since they are armed to the hilt, it needs global ostracisation to bring them to order. Quite apart from the appalling indignities and suffering their naked colonialism lays on innocent people, it is accomplished with total disregard for the supranational institutions put in place precisely to protect the values of that level of civilisation to which most of our world has evolved, values to which they pay not even lip service. That unleashes the worst elements in human nature and is arguably responsible for most of the bloody discord in that area. Peace fosters peace and the corollary is even more true. This is not peculiar to the Middle East, you see it in any area where gangs and gangsterism develop until whole communities live in fear.

    • I don’t know if peace fosters peace. Asia has basically been at peace since the China-Vietnam war, and now everyone’s trying to make claims on the oceans and rioting at any offense by their neighbors. Europe has been largely at peace since 1945, and hateful bigots are talking more and more voters into seeing immigrants as terrorists. America is full of people sniffing around for excuses to destroy all that we learned from the Civil War and the Depression and the Civil Rights struggle.

      And the aggressors in each case are comfortable, basically middle-class, certainly better off than they were during the 2008 crash.

      I think people just got bored.

  3. Netanyahu has been exceptionally adept at fooling the world by perpetuating the charade of the two-state solution despite his own admission that he was the person who killed the Oslo Accord. He has done this partly through doublespeak and partly by diverting attention from Israeli expansion by raising the bogus claim about Iran’s “nuclear weapons”.

    As early as 1992, he predicted that Iran would be able to produce a nuclear weapon within three to five years. This has been his constant refrain right up to the present time, as we saw during his meeting with President Trump last week.

    However, Netanyahu has not been the only Israeli leader who has misled the world about the Zionists’ real intentions. Right from the start, the Zionist leadership formally accepted the partition plan, giving the lion’s share of Palestine to the Jews who constituted a minority, but their real intention was the total annexation of the whole of Palestine. When Zionist leaders objected to the partition plan they were persuaded by Ben-Gurion to agree to official acceptance. However, in several secret meetings he made it clear that the partition borders were unacceptable and had to be rectified at the first opportunity. The minutes of those meetings reveal the real intentions of Ben-Gurion and hard-line Zionists, which was to annex the whole of Palestine. In July 1948, Ben-Gurion gave orders for the operation in Lydda and Ramleh, “Expel them”, and they did. Some 70% of Palestinians were expelled and the stealing of more and more territory has continued unabated. The Yinon Plan published in 1982 even envisaged a “greater Israel”, gobbling up some parts of the Middle East outside the Palestinian territory.

    In addition to numerous UN resolutions declaring Israeli settlements in occupied territory illegal, in 2004 the International Court of Justice by a 14-1 majority also declared the wall built deep into Palestinian territory and the occupation of Palestinian lands illegal.

    It is time to implement international law and to stop this vicious plan of expansion, because if it continues under the most pro-Israeli, anti-Arab and Islamophobic administration in America’s entire history nothing will be left of Palestine and the rights of dispossessed Palestinians.

    • Of course you’re right. Israel has always held the upper-hand on the ground, as well as the power needed to bankroll any potential peace through the US.

      Israel’s actions have never been sincere: only the need to keep up appearances, domestically and internationally, while consolidating the boundaries conquered in 1967,

      You see, for purposes of Israel and Jewish collective ego, especially given their tragic history, it just doesn’t do to have them do what they’re doing too blatantly. Things have to be done delicately. Aside, of course, from the untold billions (now trillions?) they’ve managed to con out of the US over the years.

      There’s never really been that much to discuss here, at least between informed, clear-eyed adults. Except, perhaps, how easily childish people are able to kid themselves about something when they want to believe in it so badly (e.g., the illusion of Israeli Good Faith).

  4. Thanks for the history lesson. As for your question: “If you keep rejecting peace, guess what you get?” — what you get is more of the West Bank, plus more financial, military and diplomatic support from the US.

  5. So isn’t it time Netanyahu and the zionists stopped playing the ” Palestinians rejected peace deals”, card, which was always ridiculous when you consider the 60 years long occupation, the on going land grabs and acres of illegal settlements, the blockades, the mowing of the lawn, the Palestinian kids being thrown in jail kidnapped in the middle of the night, and abused? Only the ignorant will keep believing that victims of an occupation prefers the status quo, the occupation, and keep suffering this way. Netanyahu was offered fighter jets worth millions of dollars just to get his behind to sit for peace talks, and they turned it down too. Israel has the upper hand and plenty of Palestinian land and water, and keeps offering the Palestinians a pittance. It is time Americans got wise to this stupid charade. Israel does not want peace, it prefers the status quo, so that they can continue to steal all the lands, and deprive the occupied of their freedom. Netanyahu has already said there will be no 2SS, so what is the world waiting for?
    Shame on the Arab nations (Saudi Arabia) who are best buddies with the occupier, and who have ignored the plight of their own people Shame on them.

  6. Now that the “peace process” has been fully exposed as the sham cover for colonization that it always was, Israel is pushing an alliance against the “evil and dangerous” Iran as the new cover. He apparently has a willing accomplice in Trump, and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are on board, at least sort of behind the scenes, as well as Egypt and probably Jordan and other Sunni states.

    So things are looking rosy for Netanyahu’s plan to simply keep the status quo and slowly nibble away all Palestinian rights. He can live with occasional outbreaks of violence and loss of a few Israeli and lots of Palestinian lives. With the unlimited military, financial and diplomatic support of the US government, he, and most Israelis, are quite content with the status quo.

  7. Hmm 61/120 is an exceedingly weak position. Have past “coalitions” been as weak as that?

    One would think that PMs that had strong backing would be in a much more tenable position to both succeed in seeking peace and enhancing their personal position. Are these assumptions reasonable?

  8. Juan you remarked sarcastically, “Sure. A comprehensive peace with the Arab League states..would doom Israel.” I’ve long thought that Israel could not long survive peace. The different groups of Jewish Israelis don’t like each other very much. Without a real or imagined common enemy what’s to stop them from going at each other’s throats?

  9. Why should Israel make any concessions to the Palestinians?

    Militarily, the Israelis are infinitely stronger than the Palestinians, and 150 years of Zionist thinking has fixed all of Palestine, and then more, as land which belongs to Jews by either divine right or historical right – the so-called “Land of Israel”. This is a universal understanding within Israel.

    The Israelis are taking over all of Palestine as fast as they can and displacing the Palestinians into disparate disjointed Bantustans, or encouraging their emigration, – in effect, ethnic cleansing.

    American politicians are either ignorant of what is going on, too shallow minded to think critically, or are intentionally burying their head in the sand.

    The status quo suits Israel perfectly, because it is not a static status quo but a dynamic one in which Israel is expanding like a cancer.

    As for peace, Israel already has peace – peace at the barrel of a Uzi.

  10. How delusional could Kerry have been if he believed Netanyahu and his cohort of right-wing racists would accept a peace plan that would preclude Israel from completing the Zionist plan of transferring all Palestinians out of their territory?

  11. YEAH, and now you have Jared Kushner wanting an ‘outside’ peace deal that may ‘look like’ the arab plan but is centered on building a coalition of Arab states against Iran. He is willfully ignorant of ME politics. The ‘best’ he can do is waste more time in false peace initiatives while Israel swallows up more Palestinian land.

    • These weak attempts to broker peace by a totally inexperienced man, will only waste tax payer money. It is already a fool’s errand.

    • This “ouside-in” business is noteworthy, representing a strategic shift in how Israel is pressing its rather transparent agenda.

      Whereas before they’d just scream in outrage whenever the Palestinian s made any feeble attempt at self-defense (often provoking things for just this reason), they’re now shifting to the demonization of Iran as a unifying point for mobilization, especially with the US.

      Methinks they judge their project effectively done, with the current degree and momentum of colonization.

      What remains is follow-through. AND, more free money and arms from the US: hence a bigger bogeyman.

      Not that Iran is particularly benign. But shifting the focus to a matter of regional geopolitical balancing shows the irrelevance of the Palestinians going forward.

  12. Over the objections of the spineless weasels in Congress, Uncle Sam should close the checkbook until Israel makes a peace deal.

    • There’ll be no deal. The only hope was when Israel was genuinely threatened (motivated). Think Camp David I, and they even played that to their ends. A rather brilliant and extraordinarily profitable case of making lemonade out of lemons.

      The only reason there’s bee this drama through the years has been to fleece the US, and of course to not feel so guilty about what they have been up to.

  13. Here is Netanyahu’s offer at the secret summit:
    link to timesofisrael.com

    This is what he suggested, below. Point number 4 is not new. Bush had approved it.
    1. The approval of large-scale Palestinian construction and advancement of economic initiaves in Area C in the West Bank, where Israel maintains security control, the approval of infrastructuve projects in the Gaza Strip, closer coordination with the Palestinian Authority, including allowing entry of weapons needed by its security forces.

    2. Positive public references by the Israeli goverment to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, also known as the Saudi initiative, including a willingness to negotiate the components with Arab states.

    3. The support and active participation of Arab states in a regional peace summit, including dispatching senior officials from Saudi Arabia , the UAE and other Sunni states to a public gathering attended by Netanyahu.

    4. Practical American recognition of construction in the settlements blocs, in exchange for a freeze outside those areas.

    5. A guarantee by the then-Obama administration to bloc any moves against Israel at the United Nations, including the use of its veto power at the Security Council.

    • Point (1) is hardly a concession – it is what any occupying power is supposed to do. Still, nice to know that he is admitting that the current policy is to squeeze the Palestinians.

      Point (2) is nothing: the weasel-worded “a willingness to negotiate the components with Arab states” doesn’t mean negotiating a peace deal on that basis, but instead means a willingness to act as an editor and re-write what’s in the Arab Initiative.

      Point (3) doesn’t actually involve Israel at all – it is a set of instructions for what the Arab states have to do, at the end of which Netanyahu will agree to stand next to them for a photo-op.

      Part (4) will – as it always does – flounder on a simple fact: Netanyahu will insist on having sole authority to define what is a “bloc” and what isn’t, and he’ll define it as “anywhere we are building”.

      Point (5) can not be taken seriously – he’s asking the President of the most powerful country on earth to stand up and announce “Hey everyone! I just want to tell you that I’m Bibi’s Bitch! ”

      Honestly, the chutzpah…

  14. Isn’t time to ditch the 2 state solution and start advocating against Isreali apartheid. Shift the focus to giving Palestinians civil rights, voting, and political parties?

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