‘Palestinians to reject Kerry peace plan, launch diplomatic war on Israel’

Palestinian Authority setting up teams to battle Israel in every conceivable international forum, Israeli TV report says

US Secretary of State John Kerry (right) and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (second from left) speak with the press after a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 2013. (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
US Secretary of State John Kerry (right) and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (second from left) speak with the press after a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 2013. (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

The Palestinian leadership has reportedly decided to reject Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposals for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal and instead launch a global diplomatic and legal assault on Israel.

The Palestinian Authority is currently setting up teams to wage diplomatic war against Israel in “every conceivable” forum, including pushing for boycotts of Israel and seeking legal rulings against Israel via international courts in The Hague, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported Friday night.

Unless Kerry significantly changes the current formulation of his proposals, the report said, the Palestinians will reject his overtures, confident that much of the international community will consider them to be the injured party and hold Israel responsible for the failure of peace efforts.

The Palestinians are furious that Kerry is offering them a state “with no borders, no capital, no [control over] border crossings… and without Jerusalem,” the TV report said, quoting Palestinian sources.

On Jerusalem, rather than the complete control that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is demanding over all areas of the city captured by Israel in the 1967 war, including the Old City, Kerry is merely offering the Palestinians a capital based in one of the city’s outlying neighborhoods such as Isawiya, Abu Dis (where construction of a Palestinian parliamentary building was begun in 2000), Beit Hanina or Shuafat.

The TV report came a day after the former Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath made plain the Palestinians’ anger with Kerry, by publicly accusing the secretary of endorsing Israel’s demands on two central issues in the peace talks: The recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and a continued Israeli security presence in the Jordan Valley. The PA has repeatedly rebuffed these two demands. “The two issues have never been in our agenda: the Jewishness of the state [of Israel] and the Jordan [Valley],” Shaath said.

Palestinian sources told AFP in early January that Abbas rebuffed pressure from Kerry to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. They also said the secretary was proposing a joint Israeli-Palestinian presence to control the West Bank-Jordan border, where Israel has insisted on continued IDF control. Abbas previously sought an international military presence on the border, with no Israeli involvement.

Last month, the Palestinians reportedly rejected a proposal by Kerry for an Israeli security presence in the Jordan Valley for the first 10 years after the signing of a peace deal.

Neither Kerry’s security proposals, nor his evolving framework deal for ongoing talks, have been made public, but leaked details indicate Israel and the Palestinians are at odds over almost all key issues — notably including the status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugee demands, border demarcations, land-swap arrangements, and security proposals. Current talks are set to end in April; Kerry wants the framework deal inked in the near future, as a basis for extending the talks.

Last week, Abbas hardened his stance on the demand for a “right of return” for Palestinian refugees.

Israel’s government, for its part, recently announced plans to build 1,400 new homes over the pre-1967 lines, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday accused the international community of “hypocrisy” for its opposition to the expansion of existing settlements, which he said did not impede peace efforts.

Netanyahu has accused the Palestinians of being intransigent in the negotiations, while Israel has released 78 long-time Palestinian prisoners, most of them terrorists convicted of murdering Israelis, in the course of the talks, and has agreed to free a further group of 26 such convicts in the coming months.

All such disputes notwithstanding, the US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, said earlier this month that the Kerry framework proposal would be presented soon. Kerry has made 10 visits to the region this year, and an eleventh trip is expected soon.

Earlier this week, Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was quoted accusing Kerry of pursuing an accord with an “inexplicably obsessive” and “messianic” zeal, and describing the secretary’s security proposal as “not worth the paper it is printed on.” Ya’alon did not deny the statements, but issued an apology. Kerry, in turn, said he would not let “one set of comments” deter him from his efforts.

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