Kerry starts off by meeting PLO preconditions
The Palestinians had three major preconditions for talks:
• That they will be based on the pre-1967 ‘borders’
• That construction outside the Green Line will be halted
• That prisoners will be released
All of these preconditions have been met, in some sense. The prisoner release was approved at great political cost for PM Netanyahu, an unpublicized limitation on construction if not a complete freeze seems to be in effect, and Kerry has made a promise to the Palestinians that the basis of the negotiations will be the so-called pre-1967 lines (the State Department denied this in the typical careful language that indicates that it is in fact true).
What does it mean that the negotiations will be ‘based’ on pre-1967 lines, or more precisely, the 1949 armistice lines?
The position of the Obama Administration is that land outside the Green Line in Judea and Samaria (excluding Jerusalem, which is another story) belongs, by default, to the Palestinians. Thus, any territory kept by Israel in a peace agreement would require compensation to the Arabs in the form of land swaps from areas that are within the Green Line.
As I’ve written before, this position flies in the face of international law, contravening the Palestine Mandate, the 1949 armistice agreement, the spirit of UNSC resolution 242 and the Oslo Accords. In summary, the Mandate gave prima facie rights in Judea and Samaria to the Jews, the armistice agreement did not establish any kind of borders,
Art. VI. …
8. The provisions of this article shall not be interpreted as prejudicing, in any sense, an ultimate political settlement between the Parties to this Agreement.
9. The Armistice Demarcation Lines defined in articles V and VI of this Agreement are agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto.
UNSC 242 called for “secure and recognized boundaries,” and Oslo made no mention of the 1949 lines.
A fair starting position, taking account of international law and precedent, would be to treat Judea and Samaria as disputed territory to which the Jews have at least as much (and possibly more) rights than the Arabs, and develop a plan to achieve “secure and recognized boundaries” — with an emphasis on ‘secure’, given recent experience with Gaza.
Instead, the US chose to tilt sharply toward the Arabs. In effect, the administration is acting as though the illegal Jordanian invasion and occupation of Judea and Samaria in 1948, and the ethnic cleansing of its Jewish population, nullified Jewish rights to the area and converted it into ‘Arab land’!
As I wrote yesterday, Abbas doesn’t see the need to make any concessions at all, because he believes that ultimately the UN will give him a state without requiring him to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, give up his unprecedented demand for ‘right of return’, or even accept a ‘two states for two peoples’ formula.
Kerry has not accomplished anything special, other than proving yet again that the Arabs are prepared to pocket what they can get from Israel without giving anything up. And it is very hard to imagine the negotiations succeeding. Here is an article by Jeffrey Goldberg, not a right-winger by any means, which explains why.
What do Kerry and Obama know that we don’t?
If someone can come up with an answer other than that they expect the talks to fail and then will be free to let the PLO go to the UN, please let me know.