Daily Israel Report

Op-Ed: Will Netanyahu accept the Kerry Framework?

Nothing in return can justify such acceptance.
Published: Sunday, January 05, 2014 9:44 AM



You don't have to be a maximalist to argue that the framework deal, as reported, should be a deal breaker for Israel.
Secretary of State Kerry is back in Israel pushing for the acceptance of his Framework. It is reported that this framework requires Israel’s agreement that borders will be based on ’67 lines plus swaps among other things. The reports say that PA didn’t hesitate to reject it whereas PM Netanyahu is trying to find a way to live with it.

You don't have to be a maximalist to argue that the framework deal, as reported, should be a deal breaker for Israel.

Thankfully, Jewish Home agrees.  Naftali Bennett, its leader, says they will leave the government if such framework is accepted, even if it is accepted with reservations. Israel’s fourteen reservations on accepting the Roadmap in 2003 simply greased the wheels of acceptance without having any traction thereafter. So Bennett is right not to buy that snake oil.

Netanyahu refused to enter negotiations based on '67 lines plus swaps and rightly so. But now, it appears that he is ready to accept such limitation of Israel’s rights, for something in return.  Nothing in return can justify such acceptance.  Even if the PA would agree that Israel is the Jewish national home and would agree to abandon the "right of return", it would not be worth it. At the moment the so-called refugees aren't permitted to return and Israel is the Jewish national homeland, so we gain very little by accepting the Framework, certainly nothing tangible.

'67 lines plus swaps doesn't do justice to our legal and historical rights flowing from San Remo and the Mandate.  Nor does it do justice to our rights to have secure borders as provided by UNSC Res 242. To accept such a guideline effectively wipes out such rights with nothing of value in return.

In that resolution, the Security Council authorized Israel to remain in the territories until she had recognized and secure borders, not borders, otherwise unsecure, but made secure with gadgets and guarantees, as presently proposed by Kerry.  As many an advertising slogan says, "accept no substitutes".

Netanyahu has continually stressed that he won't accept a deal that jeopardizes Israel's security, as though her security was the only thing at stake here.  He never said that he wouldn't accept a deal that denies our legal and historical rights. He went so far as to prevent the validation of Israel’s rights by refusing to accept the Levy Report which did so.  Recently, he altered his public stance by saying "Peace will come only when our security interests and, yes, also our settlement interests, will be ensured,”. 

That's an improvement but still only a half measure. What he is saying is that he is fighting to retain the settlements, though not all settlements by any measure, but not the land.  In other words just enough land to enable us to keep the settlement blocs. He is saying he wants to keep a minor percentage of the land because the settlements are on it and not a much greater percentage of the land because we have a legal and historical right to it. Implicitly, he is accepting '67 lines plus swaps.

But what's with this "swap" business. Swaps were not mentioned in Res 242. The idea of swaps was first raised in conjunction with the Saudi Plan that President Bush insisted be included in the Roadmap in 2003. Prior to Kerry's peace push he got the Saudis to agree to "minor swaps" as though this was a breakthrough or concession to Israel.  But it isn't. Demanding swaps, minor or otherwise, has no legal foundation. Implicitly, to accept such a device, is to accept that we must return 100% of the land. And this is contrary to the provisions of Res 242.

Not only is Netanyahu abandoning Israel's rights confirmed by the Levy Report, he is abandoning Israel’s rights inherent in Res 242. The mere fact that he entered negotiations which the PA demanded be based on '67 lines plus swaps with the support of the "honest broker", the US, without stressing that negotiations must be based on Res 242 says volumes. He contented himself with entering negotiations “without pre-conditions” when he should have asserted that he is entering negotiations based on Res 242. 

But that’s not all.  In 2010, the Netanyahu government convinced a Knesset subcommittee that a Government report dealing with the Temple Mount should be buried out of ‘national security’ and ‘foreign policy’ concerns. This was a report that revealed, “the terrifying truth about the Israeli conspiracy to relinquish control of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount to hands of the Muslim Waqf.”

Netanyahu was continuing the great mistake Moshe Dayan made in giving the keys to the Temple Mount to the Waqf almost immediately after capturing Judaism's holiest site in the ’67 war. In effect Netanyahu abandoned the holiest shrine of the Jewish people for fear of upsetting the Muslims or the international community. By accepting the Kerry Framework, he will be doing it again, irrevocably.

There is now much scuttlebutt about demanding the release of Jonathan Pollard as part of the negotiations. As if we should give up our rights in exchange for his release.  Nonsense. Even Pollard himself rejects this idea. When President Clinton was demanding that Israel accept the terms of the Wye Agreement in 1996, he agreed with Netanyahu, who was prime minister at the time, on behalf of the US to the release of Pollard. Clinton then reneged on the agreement.

From the  Knesset record, February 28, 2001:

"...The former President of the United States, Bill Clinton, made an explicit commitment to the then-Prime Minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu, to release Jonathan Pollard.

“This promise was made prior to the Wye Summit and [again] during the course of the negotiations at Wye... This was not a personal promise made to a particular prime minister... This was a promise made to the State of Israel and to the People of Israel..."

So said Dani Naveh, Minister without Portfolio.

What should have happened this time around is that Netanyahu should have demanded the release of Pollard before agreeing to negotiations. He should have demanded this because Clinton had agreed to it and because justice demands it.  Pollard’s sentence was grossly disproportionate to any sentence ever imposed for a similar offense and as such was a miscarriage of justice and a “cruel and unusual punishment”.

Netanyahu said last month in a video statement to the Saban Forum in Washington:  “The core of this conflict has never been borders and settlements — it’s about one thing: the persistent refusal to accept the Jewish state in any border,” 

This should not be interpreted to say that borders and settlements are not important.  Of course they are. So even if the PA accepts Israel as a Jewish state, agreement must still be found on borders.

Jodi Rodoren in the NYT, discussed this demand in great detail and called it a “sticking point in peace talks” and tried to make the point that who or what Israel is about is for Israel to decide and Israel doesn’t need the PA to agree. That would be true normally but since the PA denies the Jewish narrative in order to make claims on what is now Israel, it is imperative that they now abandon such claims by recognizing Israel as a Jewish State. Put another way, Israel is entitled to demand an end of conflict agreement which of necessity requires such recognition. So in this, Netanyahu is right.

The chances of Netanyahu accepting the Framework are slim. Dani Dayan, the former head of Yesha Council and now leading its diplomatic arm, recently opined in an interview, “Because according to my analysis, Netanyahu can’t do a thing without the Likud. He can build any coalition he wants but the one thing he can’t change is the composition of the Likud faction.” 

Evidently the settlers have taken over Likud in order to prevent it from kicking them out of Yesha as happened in the disengagement from Gaza.

Dayan is not the least bit concerned.

“A diplomatic agreement with the Palestinians cannot happen in the current Knesset term of office. Netanyahu will not embrace such a far-reaching plan without [Defense Minister Moshe] Ya’alon’s security backing and [Minister of Interior] Gideon Saar’s political backing. I also don’t see political feasibility on the Palestinian side. I don’t think that [Palestinian Prime Minister] Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] wants it, and even if he does want it, he does not have the political power. Therefore, to a great extent, what we have is a mirror image that, in my opinion, transforms the planned declaration of principles to a “mission impossible.” 

And that’s the bottom line.