Feb. 10, 2015
Daily summary - Monday, July 1, 2013
KERRY CAPS OFF VISIT WITHOUT ACHIEVING “BREAKTHROUGH”; SPEAKS ABOUT PROGRESS ON VARIOUS ISSUES; NETANYAHU: ALL FUTURE PEACE DEALS WILL BE PUT TO A REFERENDUM
US Secretary of State Jon Kerry left the region yesterday declaring progress, while PLO executive committee member Saeb Erekat reaffirmed that “no breakthrough” had been achieved until now in talks held between Kerry and the Palestinians and Israelis towards resuming peace talks. In a press conference with President Abbas, Erekat said the talks with Kerry had been positive and deep but had not achieved any breakthrough, adding that the gap in positions still existed. He said during the three meetings over three days, “we discussed all issues,” adding that the Palestinians were still trying their best to make progress and allow Kerry’s efforts to succeed. Erekat said he would meet with Kerry’s team, who is still in the region, saying Israel still wants to resume negotiations on condition that settlement construction continues. “Israel accuses us of putting conditions for the resumption of talks, but the fact is, we do not put any conditions. What we are demanding are obligations on Israel.” He accused Israel of preventing any breakthrough in talks with its continuation of settlements, confiscation of Palestinian land and demolition of homes.
For his part, Kerry said he achieved “real progress” in talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, but said that they had some things they needed to work on. He maintains that the “gap was very very big” but that they were able to narrow it, adding that the talks were very complex because the stakes were very high for everyone.” He announced that his aides were stay in the region to go over details with both sides. (Al Ayyam).
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday that any future peace deal must be put to a popular referendum for approval. He added that he would not allow for any solutions that impinge on Israel’s security. (Al Quds)
PROJECT TO EXPAND THE MIGO HARON SETTLEMENT
The regional committee for organization and building in the Israeli interior ministry revealed yesterday a plan to expand the settlement of Migo Horon, built on land from the two villages of Yalo and Emwas on the border with the Latron area, as part of one of the oldest plans since the Israeli occupation of 1967. The plan comes after yesterday’s approval to build 930 housing units in the Jabal Abu Ghneim (Har Homa) settlement in East Jerusalem. According to settlement and maps expert at the Arab Studies Society, Khalil Tufakji, the Yalo and Emwas area has been targeted for settlement construction by Israel since the start of the occupation. He said that even before the ceasefire was in place just days, Israeli bulldozers began exiling the residents of Yalo, Emwas and Beit Nuba before demolishing the villages in addition to a partial demolition of Qalqilya and Beit Awwa. The first three villages were completely wiped off the map and a new settlement was built over their ruins and used for agriculture purposes. Tufakji says the settlement construction in this area is aimed to disguise the landmarks of the Green Line after Israel annexed a large area of land in the Latron and Gush Etzion area of this region. (Al Quds)
SETTLERS BURN LANDS SOUTH OF NABLUS
A group of settlers burned vast areas of land in the village of Einabous south of Nablus yesterday. According to head of the settlement file in the northern West Bank Ghassan Daghlas, settlers from Yithzar, built on Einabous lands, set fire to land located to the north of the village. According to local sources in the village the fire burned areas planted with olive and almond trees, coming close to homes in the Tamaeer areas south of the village (Al Ayyam). According to sources from the Palestinian civil defense, the settlers threw stones at fire trucks and rescue teams to try and prevent them from putting out the fire. (Al Quds)
PALESTINIAN WAEL ABU RAYDA, WHO DISAPPEARED IN EGYPT IS BEING HELD IN ISRAEL
The family and lawyers of a Palestinian from Gaza and who disappeared in Egypt said yesterday that their son was being held in Israel on alleged security violations. They added that they did not know how their son Wael Abu Raydeh, 35, ended up in Israel but said he could possibly have been arrested in Sinai. Abu Raydeh, who lives in the southern Gaza Strip, headed to the eastern district of Egypt near Cairo two weeks ago requesting treatment for his son, according to his wife Amani, who was with them. She said that when they were in Egypt, they received a phone call from a friend telling him to come to Sinai, saying she had not heard from him since then. According to the general prosecutor in Israel, he received Abu Raydeh’s case on June 22, handing it over to a defense lawyer, who said the case was more about security than on a criminal basis. The family said an anonymous caller called them last week and told them that Abu Raydeh was being held in Israel, saying they had no knowledge of any ties he may have with Palestinian activists. His wife Amani said her husband was a policeman who lost his job when Hamas took control of the Strip in 2007. The Red Cross in Jerusalem said it helped the family to locate Abu Raydeh. (Al Quds)
ISLAMIC WAQF AND COMMITTEE FOR JERUSALEM ACTIVITIES: WE WILL NOT ALLOW THE SHABAK TO CHANGE THE STATUS QUO IN AL AQSA
The committee for Jerusalem activities warned yesterday of the danger of statements made by a senior Jewish rabbi, who said the Shabak was pressuring settler groups and rabbis to double their efforts to break into the Aqsa Mosque in order to take control over it. Sheikh Abdel Atheem Salham, head of the Waqf council said the rabbi’s statements confirmed what they had been warning about which was Israel’s policy aimed at pushing the biggest amount of settlers into breaking into the compound. He said Israel was planning to change the status quo at the Aqsa compound but confirmed that the Waqf there was part of the Jordanian waqf and would not be changed. For his part, Waqf director in Jerusalem Sheikh Azzam Al Khatib said: “We will not allow any Jewish extremist to perform prayers in the Aqsa, stressing on the Islamic-nature of the area.” He also said they totally rejected any party in the Israeli government who is pushing for a religious conflict in Jerusalem, saying that not only were there calls by these groups to break into the Aqsa, now the Shabak had also joined in. Fatah official Hatem Abdel Qader meanwhile, said that the break-ins into Al Aqsa were not only a case of extremist Jews but in which all arms of Israeli governance were involved in.
The Palestinian foreign ministry meanwhile condemned this Israeli policy to Judaize Jersualem and divide the Aqsa Mosque, holding the Israeli government fully responsible for the escalation in Jerusalem. The ministry also called on all international parties, especially the Quartet committee to take the statements by Rabbi Yakov seriously and stop these judiaziation process of the city. Finally, the ministry called on UNESCO and UN and regional organizations to pursue those responsible for this dangerous escalation and to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the future state of Palestine. (Al Quds)
ASSAF TO HOLD THREE CONCERTS IN THE WEST BANK FREE OF CHARGE
Minister of Culture Anwar Abu Aisheh said yesterday that Mohammed Assaf will hold three concerts in the West Bank starting today, July 1. Abu Aisheh said the concerts would be free and would open to the general public, adding that the first concert would be held tonight at 8:30 p.m. in Ramallah near the presidential headquarters in the “Nations Square”. The second concert will be in Nablus and the third in Hebron, on July 4. (Al Quds)
FREED PRISONER SETS HIMSELF ON FIRE IN FRONT OF THE FINANCE MINISTRY
A 21-year old man set himself on fire yesterday in front of the finance ministry in Al Bireh yesterday in protest of the prisoner affairs ministry not allocating him a monthly salary. Wasim Bilal Maarouf from Tulkarm set himself on fire by dousing himself with flammable liquid and setting it alight. However the police managed to save his life. Maarouf, who is a freed prisoner and who was arrested by Israeli authorities several times suffered moderate burns. According to a local medical team in Tulkarm, Maarouf has physical handicaps in 70% of his body and suffers injuries in his head, left leg and left arm. He is also unable to speak as a result of being beaten during his multiple arrests. (Al Hayat Al Jadida). In related news, head of the Palestinian Islamic Bank Mohammed Zakarneh announced yesterday that he would take charge of securing a monthly stipend for Maarouf’s family (Al Quds)
HAMAS REINFORCES SECURITY PRESENCE AT THE BORDER WITH EGYPT
The Hamas-run interior ministry and national security in the deposed government announced yesterday that it had beefed up its security presence along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt to “guarantee the security and safety at the border and to foil any opportunity for opportunists.” According to Colonel Tareq Abu Hashem, commander of the southern area in the national security, this step is in order to guarantee that nobody takes advantage of the situation at the border with Egypt such as smugglers bringing in drugs and Tramel pills into Gaza in addition to avoiding any attempts to drag Gaza into Egyptian affairs.” (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
GUNMEN SHOOT AT CAR OF HUSAM KHADER IN NABLUS
Unidentified gunmen opened fire this morning at the car of Fatah leader Hussam Khader, which was parked outside of his home in the Balata refugee camp east of Nablus. According to Khader, who made statements to MAAN by phone, around 20 bullets were shot at his car at 2:30 a.m., which caused damage to it. Khader confirmed that he saw three to four gunmen opening fire at the car before fleeing. Khader held President Mahmoud Abbas responsible given that he is the highest figure in charge in the PA. Khader said the incident came on the back of statements he recently made on his Facebook page in which he criticized what he called the policy of “shutting mouths.” (http://maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=609882)
PRISONER ABDALLAH BARGHOUTI ENTERS CRITICAL STAGE
Lawyer for the prisoner affairs ministry Mohammed Al Shayeb said yesterday that prisoner Abdallah Barghouti was currently in the Afoula Hospital and is in critical condition as a result of the hunger strike he has been waging with several of his Jordanian colleagues for almost two months. According to the attorney, Barghouti is suffering from a slow heart rate and part of his liver is not functioning. Shayeb however, said Barghouti informed him that he would continue his strike and would resort to the Irish-style hunger strike by halting to take glucose and water altogether. (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
Al Ahmad: Kerry’s visit uncovered “dishonest role” of America
Fatah parliamentary head Azzam Al Ahmad said yesterday in statements made to Sky News in Arabic that Kerry’s latest visit to the region exposed the US’s “dishonest role” in the negotiations file between Palestinians and Israel. Al Ahmad said Kerry brought “absolutely nothing, not even a small step,” maintaining that “the problem if peace in the Middle East is the American administration even before Israel.” He continued that while the US may put pressure on Israel, it doesn’t want to lose it, maintaining that it is clearly biased towards it in the first place. (http://safa.ps/details/news/106738/الأحمد-جولة-كيري-كشفت-دور-غير-نزيه-لأمريكا.html)
Wife of martyr prisoner Arafat Jaradat gives birth to baby Arafat
The wife of prisoner martyr Arafat Jaradat, Shaleesh Jaradat, gave birth to a boy yesterday and named him Arafat after his father. Jaradat died on January 23 in an Israeli prison, apparently under torture. Arafat already has two children, a three-year old daughter named Yarra and two-year old Mohammed. (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
Israeli forces arrest a mayor and two brothers
This morning, Israeli occupation forces arrested the mayor of Huwwarah after breaking into his home and two brother from the village of Orif in addition to raiding several homes in the village of Beita south of Nablus. According to Awwad Najm, Fatah spokesperson in Huwwarah, Israeli forces arrested mayor Nasser Jihad Mufdi, 45 after breaking into his home and ransacking it from the inside. The two brothers were identified as Aref Al Safadi and his brother Ahmad, who were taken from their home in Orif. (http://maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=609906)
*Mohammed Saba’aneh to be released today (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
*Wife of prisoner martyr Arafat Jaradat gives birth to baby “Arafat” (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
*Green light for the construction of 930 settlement units in Jerusalem (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
*Citizen killed northwest of Nablus in mysterious circumstances (Al Quds)
*Rawabi municipality holds it first meeting with local governance minister in attendance (Al Quds)
*Likud Party getting more extreme in confronting Netanyahu (Al Quds)
*Astrologically: Wednesday, July 10 is the first day of Ramadan (Al Ayyam)
*Egypt rebels; four killed and 228 injured in clashes between opponents and supporters of Mursi (Al Ayyam)
|Front Page Photos |
Al-Quds: Cairo: Thousands of Egyptians gather in Tahreer Square protesting against President Mohammed Mursi
Al-Ayyam: Millions of Egyptians flock to streets and squares calling for Mursi to step down
Al-Hayat Jadidah: Human river flows in front of the Union headquarters in Cairo demanding Mursi’s departure
|Voice of Palestine News |
Jerusalem: Jerusalem Awqaf General Director, Sheikh Azzam Al-Khatib, said that the Islamic Awqaf administration will not allow the Israeli tourism general company to perform any examination work of shops in “Souq Al-Lahamin”, and “Souq Al-Atareen” (two markets in the old city of Jerusalem), after some shop owners received memos from the company. Al-khatib confirmed that officials of the Jordanian Awqaf ministry were informed, adding that the Awqaf administration will proceed in legal actions to prevent the company from performing its examination work. Al-khatib also said that the occupation authorities are planning to establish a park above these two markets in order to facilitate settlers’ movement in the old city.
|Voice of Palestine Interviews|
** Ahmad Rowedy, Advisor to the President on Jerusalem Affairs, On Rabbi Statements revealing Shabak insensate to Al-Aqsa break-ins by Jewish extremists.
Q: With regards to prayers in Al-Aqsa, as mentioned by the Israeli Rabbi are upon Shabak insistence, what does the Shabak want to achieve out of these acts?
We don’t differentiate between settlers’ organizations and Israeli security; they all are part of a bigger plan to divide the land and time at Al-Aqsa. This is what happens today, settlers enter Al-Aqsa on daily basis at fixed hours. What was revealed regarding the Shabak insistence, confirms what we’ve been saying for years that they want to build their alleged temple in Al-Aqsa.
Q: We hear a lot about settlers visit to Al-Aqsa, does dividing Al-Aqsa (land and time) became a reality?
No, what we mean by the land is allocating a space for Jewish prayers; this did not happen do far, although it is being discussed at the Israel Knesset for it to be set as a law. With regards to dividing time, unfortunately, this already happened, but the presence of our people at AL-Aqsa is the only thing that prevents the Israelis from finalizing their plan at Al-Aqsa. That’s why we need more presence at Al-Aqsa.
** Khalil Tafakji, settlements specialist, on expanding “Mevo Horon” settlement.
Q: Can you provide us with more information about the expansion of this settlement?
As it is known, 3 villages were destroyed in 1967 and the Israelis created a settlement on the lands of these villages. Today and according to the Israeli plan, this area is about 58 square kilometer; the settlement will be expanded and connected to roads and railways from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This expansion plan is part of Israel’s strategy to reach a fait accompli that will not allow the establishment of the Palestinian state in the future.
Q: Can we still consider Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state, in light of all settlement activities?
If E1 settlements are established, we can be sure that Jerusalem will not be the capital of the Palestinian state. The reason is that settlements expansion today still leaves the option open, but E1 and other settlements in Palestinian neighborhoods will terminate this option.
** Dr. Saeb Erekat, Chief Palestinian Negotiator, on Kerry’s visit.
Q: Kerry said that a real progress was achieved; you said that no real progress was achieved and an Israeli official said that Kerry presented a new plan to resume negotiations, what is happening?
Talks are still taking place, there is some progress, but there are still gaps that need to be approached. As you know, when Kerry arrived, Israel announced approving 930 housing units at Jabal Abu Ghniem settlement in occupied east Jerusalem. Last week Israel was till demolishing Palestinian houses, and confiscating Palestinian land, they are the ones who are trying to fail Kerry’s effort. When we say we want his succeed, since we want a meaningful peace process. We are trying our best to help Kerry to succeed.
Q: What did Kerry present in this visit?
I can’t get into details now; I can only say that we are trying our best.
Q: is Kerry going to visit again in two weeks?
This is what he said, and he left an American team behind, and we are working with this team now.
Q: what is the nature of this team?
The team is composed of his assistants.
Q: An Israeli official said that Kerry suggested a new proposal to resume negotiations, is there any proposal, especially with regards to prisoners.
No, there is no proposal until now. There are deep discussions on all issues but no proposal was issued.
Q: Is there any progress with regards to the prisoners’ issue?
As I said before, this is a central issue, but still nothing was issued regarding this issue.
The Daily Star Editorial
After his latest trip to the region – his fifth as secretary of state – John Kerry said Sunday he had narrowed the gaps between Israel and the Palestinians, paving the way for the resumption of negotiations. But unless U.S. policy toward Israel changes drastically, the worth of any such negotiations will be negligible, as the Jewish state has no intention of shifting on any of the major issues.
More than 40 years after 1967 and there has been virtually no progress. Israel is as adamant as ever that it will not budge, and not return even an inch of land to Palestine. With each of these meaningless attempts to broker the peace, the U.S. risks losing more and more authority, as Israel virtually laughs in its face. On the eve of this visit they announced the construction of 930 new settler homes.
Settlement building has been one of the key issues for the Palestinians, and with this gesture Israel has once again shown that it has no intention of any serious or meaningful negotiations. But at the same time as it refuses to hold honest discussions, or comply with international law in annexing more and more land from Palestine, Israel also seems to believe that the Palestinians are the ones who owe it something.
Apparently Palestinians must accept the current situation as a fait accompli, and accept their ever-shrinking lands, or they will be forced to emigrate, like so many thousands before them. It seems Israel will not be happy until any remaining trace of Palestine is wiped out. “They could not look after the land themselves,” they will say, “so we had to look after it for them.”
The current Cabinet is even fiercer than those that came before, and Netanyahu’s Likud party is becoming even more hard line than it was before. The extreme party is becoming ever more extremist, with a manifesto centered around blocking any solution which does not give Israel the upper hand.
These racist and discriminatory policies, which affect the daily lives of Palestinians, are sadly reminiscent of apartheid South Africa. But then the world stood up and an international boycott forced the government to rethink some things. Today those same actors are averting their eyes from Palestine.
Israel is perfectly content with this endless stream of meaningless discussions and negotiations. It gives them time to carry out their schemes and land grabs. If there is any to be any serious hope for a peace deal and a solution to this, perhaps the greatest geopolitical tragedy of our time, then the U.S. needs to get serious and commit to an honest brokerage.
It must stand up to Israel once and for all, as the rest of the world is slowly beginning to do. To withdraw its vast military support, to weaken the Jewish lobby’s influence in Washington and to refrain from using its veto to slap down U.N. resolutions on the country.
Until then, negotiations will remain as futile as they are today. (http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Editorial/2013/Jul-01/222095-sabotagingpeace.ashx#axzz2Xg8GhyBF)
Peace hopes dashed as Kerry leaves region
John Kerry flew away from the Middle East yesterday, with little to show for four days of energetic shuttle diplomacy. He claimed as he left that progress has been made, and that new Palestinian-Israeli talks are "within reach". But his latest effort, which generated a few days of hope that a difficult and uncertain process might at least begin, ended with even that timid hope unfulfilled.
That is not to say nothing has changed. If talks are not imminent, then the Israelis will surely now have to indicate what they intend to do. The world is growing steadily less tolerant of the Israeli occupation.
Certainly nobody can doubt the US secretary of state's zeal. This was his fifth visit to the region in less than six months since he took office, and it went on for four days. His alternating bilateral discussions with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, took so much time that he had to cancel his scheduled visit to the UAE.
The high priority Mr. Kerry and his boss Barack Obama, the president, had put upon the reopening of talks is surprising because this push comes at a time when the Israelis show no appetite for real negotiations and the Palestinian side is in considerable disarray.
The setbacks of Mr. Obama's first term, when special envoy George Mitchell made no breakthrough, should have taught the president prudence on the issue. And although Mr. Kerry is still fairly new to his job, he is no novice about Middle Eastern realities. He knows that years of the "peace process" have produced no peace progress.
He knows that Mr. Netanyahu has presided over the steady growth of West Bank settlements, changing the demographics there. Indeed, last week brought final approval for 69 new housing units in East Jerusalem and today 930 units in South Jerusalem are up for approval. The Israelis give lip service to talks, but actions are louder than words.
Mr. Kerry also knows that the Palestinians are badly divided: Hamas is barely talking to Fatah, let alone the Israelis, and is internally divided on domestic issues, as shown by last week's abrupt resignation of Rami Hamdallah as Palestinian Authority prime minister.
Mr. Kerry insists there is a future for negotiation, but as Israel's implacable settlement efforts slam the door on a two-state solution, the world's disapproval of the occupation will continue to grow. (http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/editorial/peace-hopes-dashed-as-kerry-leaves-region)
Secretary Kerry’s Quest
By the Editorial Board - The New York Times
There is a sense of fatalism in Washington about Secretary of State John Kerry’s quest to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Many experts have concluded that the conditions for peace don’t exist and are unlikely to exist anytime soon. So far, White House officials have not begrudged Mr. Kerry’s investment of time and energy in the initiative, but there is little expectation that President Obama, bogged down with so many other priorities, will get very involved unless real progress emerges.
Still, Mr. Kerry keeps doggedly plowing forward. Despite the skeptics, this issue is of such importance that he is right to stay focused on it, at least until it becomes clear that neither side is willing to seriously engage. And while his trip to the region last week — his fifth — produced no breakthrough, he said he had made progress and would return again soon.
On Thursday, he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, then drove to Amman to confer with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, on Friday. He later flew by helicopter back to Jerusalem for another meeting with Mr. Netanyahu, then one with President Shimon Peres of Israel. On Saturday and Sunday, he shuttled between the leaders again.
Whether there is any substantive narrowing of differences between the two sides is unknown. Mr. Kerry’s determination to maintain secrecy is frustrating to anyone following his mission but also tactical, since unveiling details prematurely is more likely to back Israelis and Palestinians into opposite corners. The Jerusalem Post reported on Friday that Mr. Kerry proposed a series of meetings between Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas. The newspaper said Mr. Netanyahu accepted the plan and Mr. Abbas was being pressured to do the same.
The public signals from both sides have been confusing. There is division in Israel’s conservative government, where hard-liners have tried to undermine Mr. Kerry’s initiative by advocating more West Bank settlements, which are a death knell for any Palestinian state, while moderates have endorsed a two-state solution. The Israeli news site Haaretz.com reported that Mr. Netanyahu has “shifted” and is now serious about the peace process and a two-state solution. One can only hope that is true.
It does not help that the Palestinians are more disorganized than ever since their highly competent prime minister, Salam Fayyad, was ousted and replaced by someone who resigned a few weeks later. Mr. Abbas has insisted that Israel halt all settlement building before negotiations could resume and reportedly also wanted some Palestinian prisoners released from Israeli jails. Israel’s government has not initiated new settlements since it was formed in March; even so, it has moved forward on 69 previously approved apartments in East Jerusalem.
There have been no direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks since 2010. Mr. Kerry has made clear he wants to make headway on negotiations well before September, when the United Nations General Assembly will once again debate the Middle East. If that does not happen, there may come a point when Mr. Kerry and President Obama will have to decide whether it continues to make sense to invest this level of energy in this project indefinitely without a commensurate commitment by Israel and the Palestinians. (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/01/opinion/secretary-kerrys-quest.html?ref=opinion&_r=0)
Who should we believe: Erekat or Kerry?
Al-Quds Al-Arabi Editorial
We don’t understand how John Kerry can succeed in his efforts to bring back Palestinians and Israelis to the negotiations table, while Netanyahu’s government announced the construction of some 1,000 housing units in Jabal Abu Ghniem settlement in occupied Jerusalem.
If Mr. Kerry was to respect himself and his country’s great status, he would immediately return back on the same place that brought him to Tel-Aviv, and without meeting any Israeli official protesting being insulted by Israel.
Unfortunately, Mr. swallowed this insult, and spent four days travelling between Amman, Ramallah and Tel-Aviv, hoping to persuade the Palestinian side, or press it to return to negotiations and drop the precondition of freezing all settlement activity on the occupied land that is supposed to be returned to the Palestinians at the end of the negotiations process.
We don’t know what happened behind the scenes and behind the closed doors, Minister Kerry spent 13 hours in meeting Netanyahu, and another 6 hours meeting Palestinian president Abbas. No one revealed to us what was happening in these meetings, what we heard from Mr. Kerry was that he made some progress, while Dr. Saeb Erekat, Chief Palestinian Negotiator, said that the talks did not achieve any breakthrough.
We can’t consider these statements as accurate and honest, it might be a smoke grenades hiding many facts on ground, there must be concessions from one side of another, and especially the Palestinian side, otherwise, why would the Foreign Minister of a great power spend four days of his time travelling between the concerned parties?
Kerry told reporters at Ben Gurion airport before leaving for Brunei: “I'm happy to tell you that we have made real progress at this stage, I think that with a bit more effort the start of final status negotiations will be achieved… We started with very deep gaps that were reduced significantly.”
The progress that Kerry mentioned might be on the most important issue for Israeli, security, which would be the Palestinians accepting Israeli forces on the border with Jordan, recognizing a Jewish state. The differences that Kerry mentions would be on the issue of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Some believe that solving the borders issue would be through a confederation between the West Bank and Jordan, where Jordanian security forces will be in charge of the borders with Israel. This might explain why the Secretary of State spent so much time in Amman and met Abba there and not in Ramallah.
We will wait for few days and we will learn more about what Kerry and Erekat tried to hide form us through following up on statements by American and Israeli officials, or their leaks to newspapers. These facts might be disappointing, disappointing for us of course.
Real obstacles despite the “progress”!
The statements made yesterday by Secretary of State, John Kerry, at the end of his current visit, saying “we narrowed the big gaps” between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, and that a progress was achieved on stuck issues, were faced by statements released by Dr. Saeb Erekat saying that the visit did not yield a breakthrough, although there was “real progress”. These statements confirm that there are real obstacles that still block the resumption of the peace process, despite the achieved progress, and these obstacles lie primarily on the Israeli hardline stance and its preconditions.
The first obstacle is Israel’s refusal to freeze settlement construction in occupied east Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, and other various practices and violations including plans to Judaize Jerusalem, raid campaigns and arrests, restriction of freedom of movement and worship, and the imposed siege on Gaza. All of these practices do not express any intention to make peace.
The most important would be the fact that Israel is still refusing to recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including its right to self-determination on its national soil and establish its independent state with Jerusalem as its capital, a state recognized by the majority of states.
If we add Israel’s rejection to release prisoners to the prior mentioned “No’s”, it must be said that a real progress would be measured a change in Israel’s positions regarding the core issues in accordance with international legitimacy, and its willingness to stop its practices that are, to say the least, violations of international law, and we did not hear about any change in this regard. We don’t know if the progress mentioned by Kerry applies to these issues or is it regarding procedural matters not concerned in the essence of the Israeli positions.
Therefore we say that the U.S. administration and the international community must continue with its efforts to remove obstacles placed by Israel in order to reach a real breakthrough in the peace process. They must compel Israel to freeze settlement activities, release prisoners and to stop its violations in Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, in addition to lifting the siege on the Gaza Strip and recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.
This is the real problem facing a progress in the peace process, and without a substantive progress in these levels, it is unfortunate that we say that Kerry’s shuttle tours will be doomed to failure, like all previous efforts has paid greater attentions to procedural matters at the expense of the essence of peace and the supposed commitment to international legitimacy by Israel.
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