U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to arrive in Israel again next Monday. This will be his 12th visit to the region, “but not all Israeli political leaders are happy to see him return,” says Israeli daily Israel Hayom.
In the closed forums in Jerusalem where details of the peace negotiations with the Palestinians are discussed, unprecedentedly harsh criticism of Kerry and his staff has been heard in recent weeks. For example, senior Israeli diplomatic officials have called Kerry’s security plan for the Jordan Valley “ridiculous and unable to withstand the test of reality,” Israel Hayom reports.
“Kerry has been visiting here a lot, but he shows no true understanding of what’s going on,” diplomatic officials say.
“The American plans are superficial and not serious,” they continue, according to the report.
“There’s no connection between what’s being said publicly about progress in the negotiations and what’s actually happening. It looks like Kerry is simply not in touch with reality. He is not knowledgeable, to say the least, in the roots of the conflict. He doesn’t know how to present real solutions, and he isn’t even familiar with the maps he is being shown.”
The text of the framework agreement has not yet been released, and Kerry has worked to keep details of all negotiations confidential, raising suspicions on both sides.
Additionally, Kerry is reportedly proposing to offer up US troops to help secure Israel’s borders, according to unconfirmed news reports coming out of Israel.
The State Department is not commenting on these latest reports, according to Time, and many US military analysts are convinced such a move would be a bad idea.
“When you look at it from a military perspective, I don’t see any good that would come of it,” says David Maxwell, associate director of the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service in Washington.
Israeli senior officials are clearly concerned, calling the conduct of the U.S. secretary of state in pushing for a deal “obsessive.” Officials speculate that Kerry’s goal is not for peace, but for political gain, Israel Hayom notes.
More distressing is the concern, they add, that if Israel rejects the American plan, the US will blame Israel for the failure of the negotiations.
Officials are also concerned that in exchange for a one-year extension for implementation of the plan, the Palestinian Authority “will ask more of Israel, such as a [settlement construction] freeze or another prisoner release, and these demands will be backed by Kerry and turned into an American demand, accompanied by a threat.”
They stressed that “Arabs have never given anything in return, from the Oslo negotiations until today.”
Adding to the concerns is a lack of documentation, Israel Hayom reports.
“The negotiations are currently being carried out without papers or documents passing between the sides. This is because the Arabs are refusing to present written documents. The Americans are coming with prepared proposals; they read them and do not leave documents with either side. It is all done verbally. The Netanyahu government is cooperating with Kerry’s initiative with the clear knowledge that the Arab side will not accept the agreement and ultimately [Israel] will not be required to make concessions or evacuate [Arab] settlements.”
By: United with Israel Staff