Palestinian protesters greeted U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Ramallah on Friday with chants of “Kerry, you coward” and “Kerry go home” as he traveled to the West Bank to meet with Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, amid the latest round of talks between the Israeli government and the PA.
Palestinian critics of Kerry say the negotiations have so far favored the demands of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom Kerry met with on Thursday and Friday morning before heading to the West Bank.
The goal of the current negotiations, according to the U.S. delegation, is to come to a “framework agreement” between the two parties, in which the Israelis and Abbas’ PA can map out a path towards a future agreement to be signed in April.
“The U.S. does not set an end to those violations as a goal of these peace talks – let alone as a precondition. If it did, Israel would have to end its occupation of the 1967 territories and recognize the Palestinians’ right of return unilaterally – ending violations shouldn’t require negotiations.” –Phylllis Bennis
However, Yasser Abed Rabbo, Abbas’s deputy in the Palestine Liberation Organization, said the “framework agreement” for a peace deal “restricts Palestinian sovereignty on Palestinian land.”
While Kerry said yesterday that an agreement between the two is “not mission impossible,” Netanyahu portrayed the opposite sentiment, claiming that the Palestinian leader is someone who embraces terrorists “as heroes” in a press conference following their meeting.
Netanyahu also recently proposed plans to build 1,400 housing units in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
However, Kerry has called such settlements “illegitimate,” as they are illegal under international law.
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According to the Associated Press, in the negotiations Netanyahu is “likely to be asked to accept — with some modifications — the borderlines that existed in 1967 before Israel captured Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”
Abbas, on the other hand, will likely be asked to recognize “Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people and give up the so-called ‘right of return’ for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled or were expelled in the war over Israel’s creation in 1948.”
Critics of the overall and so-called “peace process,” however, have long argued that what are widely passed off as “negotiations” towards a peaceable solution between the Israelis and Palestinians are, in fact, an affront to a just end to the occupation of Palestinian land. To many of those critics, U.S.-driven talks themselves, dating back to before the Oslo Accords in 1993, have done more to entrench the conflict than solve it.
And as foreign policy expert and Institute for Policy Studies fellow Phyllis Bennis wrote this fall, the Obama administration’s strategy (led by Kerry) is simply more of the same failed U.S. policy that has existed through successive administrations:
The problem, according to Bennis, is that the same failed approach is being tried once again and, as always, the claims of the Israeli government trumps that of the Palestinians living under armed military occupation:
And Palestinian journalist Ramzy Baroud points out the questionable status of Abbas’ Palestinian Authority, reflecting the argument of many that it is not the legitimate voice of all Palestinians; certainly not of those living under Israeli military blockade in Gaza or the many refugees who remain outside of Palestine altogether. As the “peace process” re-surfaced earlier this year, Baroud wrote:
And as Bennis concluded:
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