Kerry Betting On The Wrong Horses
It has once again become clear that the Arab countries, including the wealthiest and most influential, have no influence on the Palestinians. The Arab League is an incompetent and ineffectual body that has long been ridiculed by most Arabs. It has never played an influential role in solving Arab crises such as the Lebanese Civil War, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait or the ongoing bloodshed in Syria.
The Arab League foreign ministers who met with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington last week were convinced that they had a mandate from the Palestinians to talk about possible land swaps between Israel and a future Palestinian state.
Ahead of their departure to the US, the ministers had met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Doha, Qatar, and discussed with him the land swap idea.
At the meeting, the Arab League decided to dispatch a high-level delegation to Washington to brief the US Administration on the Arab position regarding the resumption of peace talks with Israel. Headed by Qatar's Hamad bin Jasim al-Thani, the delegation which met with Kerry also consisted of Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Malki.
Yet the Palestinians seemed to be surprised, following the meeting with Kerry, to hear the Qatari representative talk about possible land swaps between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Palestinian Authority's initial response was to issue a statement in English -- not Arabic -- voicing support for the land trade proposal. The statement said that this was an old idea that had been discussed in the past between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.
But following strong condemnations from many Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority leadership took a step backwards.
First, the Palestinian Authority said that it was only prepared to discuss "minor" adjustments to the border between Israel and a future Palestinian state.
Later, as the denunciations grew, the Palestinian Authority took yet another step backwards, saying it was opposed to making any "down payments" to Israel before the peace talks resumed.
In other words, the Palestinian Authority is not prepared to talk about any territorial concessions to Israel before the Israeli government accepts the pre-1967 lines as the basis for a two-state solution.
Palestinian reactions to the land swap proposal seem to have angered Qatar and other Arab countries.
With the exception of a few Palestinian Authority officials, all Palestinian factions have come out strongly against the proposal. The anger has been directed especially against Qatar.
"Who gave the Qatari leaders the right to offer concessions to Israel on behalf of the Palestinians?" was the main charge leveled against the rulers in Doha.
Other Palestinians, including top members of Abbas's Fatah faction in the West Bank, have also lashed out at the Arab ministers for "offering free concessions" to Israel on behalf of the Palestinians.
Although the Palestinian Authority leadership had in the past hinted that it would be willing to accept the land swap idea, it is now obvious that it would never be able to win the Palestinians' support for such a proposal.
As leaders of Hamas and other Palestinian groups emphasized over the past few days, no Palestinian leader has a mandate to make any concessions to Israel.
Even worse, the Arab League proposal is being viewed by many Arabs and Palestinians as part of an "American-Zionist conspiracy" to force the Palestinians to accept Israeli "dictates."
Abbas and the Palestinian Authority leadership in the West Bank seem to have absorbed the message and are now back to demanding a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines, which were never official borders.
For Kerry, who has taken it upon himself to try to resume the peace process, this is all bad news.
It is bad news that the Palestinian Authority still does not have the courage to tell the Palestinians that without some form of compromise there will never be real peace with Israel.
It is bad news because it has once again become clear that the Arab countries, including the wealthiest and most influential, have no influence on the Palestinians.
Judging from their reactions to the land swap idea, many Palestinians continue to despise the Arab regimes, accusing them of serving as pawns in the hands of the US and Israel.
The US Administration needs to understand that the Arab League is an incompetent and ineffectual body that has long been ridiculed by most Arabs. This is a body that has never played an instrumental role in solving Arab crises such as the Lebanese Civil War, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait or the ongoing bloodshed in Syria.
It now remains to be seen whether Kerry and President Barack Obama will ever notice that they are betting on the wrong horses. Neither the Arab League nor the Palestinian Authority leadership has a mandate to offer any concessions to Israel or recognize its right to exist.
Reader comments on this item
|Clarification to "Palestinians" [140 words]||Eyal Levy||May 10, 2013 05:35|
|The 1967 lines [59 words]||Alan Stein||May 9, 2013 20:08|
|No truer words spoke... [111 words]||D. Peters||May 9, 2013 15:37|
|Betting on Peace [161 words]||Larry Snider||May 9, 2013 11:01|
|The article is right [210 words]||Ken Kelso||May 7, 2013 12:33|
|Kerry's impossible quest [96 words]||George Weiss||May 6, 2013 15:08|
|Betting on the wrong horse [185 words]||David Salinger||May 6, 2013 13:50|
|Palestinian leadership acting arrogantly [56 words]||Gary Katz||May 6, 2013 13:44|
Comment on this item
by Louis René Beres
The Palestinian Liberation Organization [PLO], forerunner of today's Palestinian Authority, was founded in 1964, three years before Israel came into the unintended control of the West Bank and Gaza. What therefore was the PLO planning to "liberate"?
Why does no one expect the Palestinians to cease all deliberate and random violence against Israeli civilians before being considered for admission to statehood?
On June 30, 1922, a joint resolution of both Houses of Congress of the United States endorsed a "Mandate for Palestine," confirming the right of Jews to settle anywhere they chose between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. This is the core American legacy of support for a Jewish State that President Obama now somehow fails to recall.
A sovereign state of Palestine, as identified by the Arabs -- a Muslim land occupied by "Palestinian" Arabs -- has never existed; not before 1948, and not before 1967. From the start, it was, and continues to be, the Arab states -- not Israel -- that became the core impediment to Palestinian sovereignty.
by Timon Dias
It looks as if this new law is meant to serve as a severe roadblock to parties that would like to dismantle the EU in a democratic and peaceful way from within.
A rather dull semantic trick pro-EU figures usually apply, is calling their opponents "anti-Europe."
by Alan M. Dershowitz
by Soeren Kern
Austria has emerged as a major base for radical Islam and as a central hub for European jihadists to fight in Syria.
The proposed revisions would, among other changes, regulate the training and hiring of Muslim clerics, prohibit the foreign funding of mosques, and establish an official German-language version of the Koran to prevent its "misinterpretation" by Islamic extremists.
Muslims would be prohibited from citing Islamic sharia law as legal justification for ignoring or disobeying Austrian civil laws.
Leaders of Austria's Muslim community counter that the contemplated new law amounts to "institutionalized Islamophobia."
Official statistics show that nearly 60% of the inhabitants of Vienna are immigrants or foreigners. The massive demographic and religious shift underway in Austria, traditionally a Roman Catholic country, appears irreversible.
by Samuel Westrop
Over 800 Iranians were executed during President Rouhani's first year in office.
Leading politicians, British government officials and businessmen nevertheless seemed happy to attend and speak at the Europe-Iran Forum.