The American Initiative: How Discussions Will “Kerry On”

While both Israeli and Palestinians are viewing with an unsettled eye the attempt by the United States to peacefully settle the conflict with the negotiations initiated by United States Secretary of State John Kerry, the discussions are still going on. A month ago, the PLO’s Yasser Abed Rabbo revealed what he said were the details of Mr. Kerry’s proposals. According to these revelations, the negotiations are based on the recognition of Israel as a Jewish State, the establishment of East Jerusalem as a Palestine capital, a solution for the refugee issue modeled on the Clinton Parameters, the maintenance of Israeli control in the settlements, Israeli control of the border corridors and the aerial space, and finally the placing of Israeli, Jordanian, American and (unarmed…) Palestinian military forces on the border.

“No power in the world can compel me to make concessions”

Benjamin Netanyahu

photo credit: Flash90

Even if broadly speaking this proposal seems to make concessions to both parties, undisputable issues are being raised once again.

First of all, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu categorically refuses to discuss compromise on any square meter of Jerusalem. Secondly, no further negotiations can be considered by the Palestinian Authority as long as Palestine’s future will remain controlled by the Israeli military forces guns.

Between the irreconcilable outlooks of Zionist and Palestinian claims for historical legitimacy, America has become a referee, stuck between the two sides of the Green Line.

“So far the Americans have not been able to put these ideas into a framework”

Mahmoud Abbas

photo credit: Flash90

As it is, Kerry’s plan is not going to find a middle ground before the 29th of April. And that’s a pity. The impossibility for the two sides to just concentrate on a dialogue composed of concessions is not just symptomatic of the two side’s rejection for any third party or international intervention; it reveals a deeper character to the conflict: the existence of irreconcilable differences. The discussions in the Kerry Initiative are frozen in the same traditional rhetoric used since the Oslo’s negotiations. The international view is yet here: Even if both the Israelis and the Palestinians might wish for other partners in the resolution of this conflict, they are pragmatically compelled to deal with the ones they have. This explains why Kerry will persevere until he reaches what he was seeking: a common view for a possible Two-States establishment.

John Kerry has to somehow convert something he may judge seemingly endless and futile into a political game-changer. Of course, Kerry is not the first one to try to resolve the conflict, and he’s probably not the last one either, but at least he’s trying. In other words, the world has done its part of the job; it’s now time for the two protagonists to do likewise. They should realize at some point that their national lives depend on Kerry’s success.

Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas are even now projecting their bad faith (concerning the future of the negotiation) to public opinion that seems to undo Kerry’s efforts, as they lose faith in a potential resolution of the conflict after 20 years of failure to do so.

Political discussions are not easy in this conflict, where concessions might sound like an avowal of weakness. For that reason mainly, and because this conflict has always been a show of strength, no compromises can be found without disadvantaging to one party or another. This creates a risk for internal security and a risk for both side’s national futures. No one can blame the two sides for defending their interests; it is the basis of a negotiation. But they must lay down the arms that words may be and change their discourse into something hearable and mature. Political authorities should not be allowed to steal the hope of the people.

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