Erekat: Kerry will lay down path to peace based on UN resolution
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Erekat: Kerry will lay down path to peace based on UN resolution

Palestinians pessimistic about long-term impact of secretary of state's speech after Trump administration takes over

Avi Issacharoff

Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.

US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) seen with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat at the Palestinian Presidential compound in Ramallah on July 23, 2014. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) seen with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat at the Palestinian Presidential compound in Ramallah on July 23, 2014. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Wednesday that he expects US Secretary of State John Kerry to lay down clear parameters for a peace deal between Israel in the Palestinians in his planned speech on Wednesday, and that it will be based on last week’s United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 that condemned Israeli settlements.

“We are talking about a resolution that is fair to all sides and which Kerry will be required to work in accordance with,” Erekat told The Times of Israel.

On Tuesday an Egyptian paper published what it said were transcripts of a meeting between Kerry and Erekat, in which the Americans reportedly told the Palestinians they would work with them on the resolution.

Erekat also condemned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conduct since the vote, saying that Netanyahu “is in a diplomatic black hole and instead of trying to find his way out, he keeps making every possible mistake to dig himself deeper.”

Netanyahu has announced a series of punitive measures against countries that supported the vote, bitterly criticized the US for failing to veto it, and accused the US of coordinating and driving the “shameful” resolution through in an “ambush” of Israel. The US has denied any pre-vote hand in the resolution.

Erekat did not address what practical impact Kerry’s speech could have on the current situation, although another Palestinian official told The Times of Israel that expectations for the speech are very low. “There are no illusions at the Palestinian Authority that this speech can meaningfully influence on the situation on the ground, or have a positive influence on the policies of the incoming administration of US President-elect Donald Trump.”

The Palestinian source also said that the chance that the parameters Kerry will outline in his speech will be used as a basis for a further UN Security Council resolution, calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state, is very low.

But the source did say that there is a possibility that the concluding declaration from the Paris peace conference in January will be the basis of a proposal for a Security Council resolution.

President Barack Obama (R) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (L) upon Obama's arrival at the Muqata Presidential Compound in Ramallah in March, 2013. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
US President Barack Obama (R) and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) upon Obama’s arrival at the Muqata Presidential Compound in Ramallah in March, 2013. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

On the Palestinian side there is a great deal of criticism of the current US administration, which the source said tried to tread too carefully and did not determine clear parameters for a peace deal.

The source also slammed the fact that it was Kerry who was picked to set out the American position on the issue and not President Barack Obama himself.

The official said the Palestinians believe that the establishment of clear parameters for the peace process by the current administration will lead to a sharp response from Trump and his advisers and a rejection of the proposed framework.

In order for Kerry’s speech to have a real effect, the source maintained, Kerry would need to show that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians during his tenure as secretary of state have led to progress in arriving at a peace deal. Kerry also needs to clearly lay out what steps are required to arrive at an agreement on the basis of two states for two peoples, and to prevent the elimination of the two-state solution as the preferred outcome, rather than a single bi-national state.

In light of all these difficulties, the Palestinian side believes that these latest developments pushed by Kerry and the Obama administration are “too little, too late,” the official said.

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