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August 1, 2013 1:19 pm

The Five Flaws of Kerry’s Mideast Peace Process

avatar by Noah Beck

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, and Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat address reporters on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations at the U.S. Department of State. Photo: State Department.

1) No Palestinian reciprocity at the outset. Israel agreed to release 104 convicted terrorists just to get the Palestinians to talk peace. Would the U.S. agree to release 104 Guantanamo prisoners for talks with anyone?

Israel will undoubtedly be blamed if negotiations fail, so it’s unlikely that fair judgment by the international community motivated the release. Perhaps it was the price that Israel had to pay for a U.S. promise to prevent Iranian nukes and/or support Israel’s efforts to stop them. If so, is the U.S. good for its word, despite Obama’s repeated demonstrations that his Mideast “red lines” are meaningless?

Whatever the explanation for Israel’s good-faith opening, there were plenty of ways for the Palestinians to reciprocate: removing anti-Israel incitement from their textbooks and/or official media, recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, promising to “freeze” their anti-Israel diplomatic offensives, etc. But Secretary of State John Kerry preferred to establish that Palestinian reciprocity is optional: if Israel isn’t volunteering what the Palestinians demand, they need only threaten to leave the talks and Kerry will compel the Israelis to comply.

2) No Palestinian good faith. The Palestinians will be represented by Saeb Erekat and Mohammad Shtayyeh. Shtayyeh’s Facebook page displays a map of Israel’s internationally recognized borders, plus the West Bank and Gaza – all emblazoned with the Arabic letters for “Palestine.” So the person entrusted with negotiating a “two-state solution” openly admits that his Mideast map has room for only a Palestinian state. Just as alarming, during a recent sermon attended by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and broadcast on Palestinian television, Religious Endowments Minister Mahmoud al-Habbash compared the PA’s decision to negotiate with Israel to the Prophet Muhammad’s Treaty of Hudaibiya (in the year 628 CE): “in less than two years, based on this treaty, the Prophet returned and conquered Mecca. This is the example. It is the model.”

3) No religious freedom in a future Palestinian state. Palestinians insist (ironically) that “peaceful coexistence” means no Jewish settlers in their state. But, on principle, why should Jews be banned from living in a future Palestinian state -particularly when Muslims constitute more than 17 percent of Israel’s population? Will the future Palestinian state be as hostile to religious minorities as other Muslim majority states are? Unfortunately, recent history gives little reason to hope otherwise. Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning, Arab journalist reported the following about a year ago:

According to the Greek Orthodox Church in the Gaza Strip, at least five Christians have been kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam in recent weeks… Church leaders…accused a prominent Hamas man of being behind the kidnapping and forced conversion of a Christian woman, Huda Abu Daoud, and her three daughters. Radical Islam, and not checkpoints or a security fence, remains the main threat to defenseless Christians not only in the Palestinians territories, but in the entire Middle East as well.

While Gaza is ruled by Islamists, the PA has also shown its hostility to Christians. On March 12, 2012, Algemeiner reported that

“A week after Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told an [international] audience of Evangelical Protestants…that his government respected the rights of its Christian minorities, [PA] officials…informed Bethlehem pastor Rev. Naim Khoury that his church lacked the authority to function as a religious institution under the PA…[T]here is a sense among Christians in Bethlehem that anti-Christian animus has gotten worse in the city…Khoury said.”

A few weeks ago, Palestinians vandalized the Cave of the Patriarchs, Judaism’s second holiest site. How safe will non-Muslim holy sites be if there is no more Israeli presence in the West Bank? Will a future peace agreement specifically guarantee protection of and Israeli access to Jewish holy sites?

If Israel’s presence in the West Bank has helped to moderate Muslim rule there, will Israel’s complete departure mean that West Bank Christians can expect their persecution to worsen to Gazan levels (with abductions and forced conversions)? Palestinian insistence that their future West Bank state be “Judenrein” doesn’t bode well for the indigenous Christians there (or for religious freedom).

4) No Palestinian mandate to negotiate peace. There are about 2.1 million Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and 1.7 million in the Gaza Strip. But Hamas-ruled Gaza vehemently opposes peace negotiations and denies Israel’s right to exist. Islamic Jihad and Hamas recently lambasted PA leaders for meeting with Israelis to talk peace. The last time that the PA announced direct talks with Israel, Hamas announced plans to launch terrorist attacks at Israel, in coordination with 12 other Gaza terrorist organizations.

And it’s not even clear that West Bank Palestinians favor these talks. Last Sunday, they rallied against peace until PA police violently suppressed the protest. Human Rights Watch has urged the Palestinian government to investigate the police beatings. Moreover, Abbas himself has no legal mandate, as his term of political office expired long ago yet he continues to rule with no elections in sight.

At best, the PA can deliver only half of any peace that it promises, which lets Palestinians have their cake and eat it too: the PA can extract painful territorial concessions from Israel at the negotiating table, while Hamas can continue terrorist attacks to achieve the one-state solution embraced on Facebook by PA “peace negotiator” Mohammad Shtayyeh.

5) Transferring the West Bank could be Israel’s geostrategic undoing. Jordan could collapse any day from a flood of approximately 500,000 Syrian refugees (and growing daily); severe poverty; popular discontent over corruption, inequality, and lack of freedom; acute water shortages; and/or Muslim Brotherhood action to overthrow King Abdullah’s monarchy. These factors make the Abdullah regime’s survival increasingly uncertain. After Israel withdraws from the West Bank, will Hamas topple the PA there as it did in Gaza two years after Israel’s 2005 Gaza withdrawal? What if the Hamas-allied Muslim Brotherhood then takes over Jordan? If Jordanian-Palestinians, the largest ethnic group in Jordan, create a Palestinian state there (as advocated by this Jordanian-Palestinian writer), would Palestinians effectively have two states? The range and severity of threats to Israel from the combination of a post-Abdullah Jordan and a Palestinian West Bank state are considerable. Is it even possible to address these Israeli security concerns in a way that leaves Palestinian negotiators satisfied enough to sign a peace treaty?

With so many inherent defects in the current peace talks, why would the U.S. push its most reliable Mideast ally (and the only Middle East democracy) into such perilous waters or inevitable blame? One explanation is the increasingly fashionable idea (promoted by Arab governments) that settlements are blocking a peace deal that would produce Mideast stability. But inconvenient facts completely contradict this idea: Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Bahrain, and Yemen (etc.) would remain the same conflict-torn tragedies as they are now after any Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis, an apocalyptic novel about Iranian nukes and other geopolitical issues in the Middle East.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • Frankly, as long as the Palestini-goons insist on a bogus “right of return” to Israel (gee, I wonder what all the Jews who had to flee Islamic persecution from Algeria to Iran have to say about that), the “peace process” is hopeless. Nor should Israel let itself be put back into vulnerable pre-1967 borders. The Golan Heights and the “West Bank” ared Israel’s Sudetenlands.

  • arcaneone

    This issue contains a picture of the Dome of the Rock mosque,
    frequently mistaken for alAqsa mosque.

    Just below the mosque’s golden dome is a series of tile mosaics, arranged as Jewish(6-pointed) stars, proof that there was some attempt by early Muslims to accommodate Jews.
    Note this inb contrast to the horrible statements of modern
    Muslims, and attempts by Muslim nations to ban Jewish history
    in the Middle East.

  • I don’t see how Kerry and the US in general can honestly
    focus on this one region, Israel/Palestine, and this
    tiresome issue over and again, when there is so much
    bloodshed in Egypt and throughout the African countries
    towards Christians by muslims. Persecution there is
    barbaric. This looks like poor representation on our
    country’s part. As for Israel, I pray they won’t concede
    to any demands on them. They have given enough and
    should know “it’s never enough” for the opposition.

    • Mel

      If you keep the TV News on, you will NEVER understand.
      If the U.S. Department of Education had not years ago removed ‘Effective Thinking’ from the K-6 public school curriculum, it is likely the most obvious question, “Who hates America more: The Obama administration, or the Muslim Brotherhood that pulls its strings, spreading so many petrodollars around it filled his campaign coffers and convinced Progressive lamestream media ‘reporters’ to abandon their independence and convince American voters to elect him?” would not have arisen. So the media, refusing to vet him, unleashed a despot upon us.

  • Sonia Willats

    AGREED, sp. concluding para.. But i.r.o. point1, to make a viable comparison, USA would need to release ?150000 killers known to be hostile to her population at large into the general public, to once again commit atrocities en masse on her civilians. It makes NO SENSE AT ALL, sp. as an opening to peace talks, for what in exchange. It perverts all sense of justice for wanton hatred and murder. I cannot believe that PM Netanyahu agreed except in response to a huge threat against Israel if he did not agree. How supportive is the USA regime REALLY of Israel’s continued survival? How reliable is the USA as the arbiter of negotiations for peace?

  • Elliot J. Stamler

    I agree with Mr. Beck but there are many other motives for the administration’s point of view. I stridently disagree with the self-serving viperous criticisms from the extreme right (i.e Republican) that the president is anti-Israel–the record belies that and everyone who knows him knows otherwise; the same goes even more strongly for
    VP Biden and former Sec. Clinton and Sec. Kerry. Unfortunately they continue the same basic policy that ALL past administrations have, with variations, followed-a belief based on many considerations, that peace is attainable in the middle east with great benefits to America. Unfortunately it is not. This is why I am long over getting wrought about this policy because thanks to Abbas, Erekat and the rest of the Palestinian Jew-loathing fanatics, there is not going to be a peace at any time in the forseeable, probably the distant future. Optimism in part of our American character but that does not make it attainable in this tragic case.

  • EthanP

    We all know that Israel can never give enough to get a Palestinian agreement. Barak offered as much as any Israeli government can and the answer was another ‘intefada’. No Palestinian leader has Sadat’s courage. They don’t want to end up like him. These negotiations are the result of Obama/Kerry pressure on Bibi. And it is no secret neither wish Israel well. But the USA is the IDF’s quarter master. So if the USA says negotiate, Israel sits at the conference table. Israel’s main helper in this will be the Palestinians themselves. As Abba Eban said, “the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.

  • Matt

    First thing is the word peace, there will be no rainbows and daisy’s the day after. It is a choice between international isolation or reducing security. Either maintain security and face international isolation. So it will be like Gaza and Lebanon. When they fire rockets or other terror related we close the tunnel between Gaza and the West Bank. In fact I expect it not to be completed, downing tools during construction due to terror.

    • James Crozier

      Jews were in Palestine before the Christians or the Muslims.
      In 1948 the Jews creates Israel despite attempted armed intervention by the Arab League.
      To my knowledge there has been no honest offer of peace since.
      I’m not a betting man, but if I was I would have to say that any time you drop your guard in a fight you will get struck. Seems like risky behavior to drop your guard. Especially in that neighborhood.