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Op-Ed: Historical Amnesia

Kerry needs to come clean and put all the drafts of his framework agreement and the objections raised by Israel and the PLO into the public arena.
Published: Friday, April 18, 2014 1:10 AM


John Kerry was well on the way to becoming another impotent and failed Secretary of State in November last year - as predicted in my article "Palestine - Kerry Destined For Political Scrapheap":

"Historical amnesia" - Kerry-style - has been, and apparently still is, a potent factor in failed American attempts to resolve the Arab-Jewish conflict.

Such ignorance has clouded the thinking of many former well - intentioned Secretaries of State - who became ticking time bombs destined to end up on the political scrap heap because they tried to undo what was internationally guaranteed in former Palestine ninety years ago."

Kerry - like previous Secretaries of State before him - made the same fatal error of ignoring the PLO's refusal to accept decisions taken in the international arena between 1920-1922 and since then, believing the PLO could be appeased into changing its mind.

Since its inception in 1964 the PLO has never been prepared to recognise the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country as laid down in the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine.

The current Kerry negotiations were being conducted pursuant to the 1993 Oslo Accords and the 2003 Bush Roadmap - as amplified at Annapolis in 2007

However the Roadmap itself was fatally flawed in its objective of seeking to create a second Arab state in former Palestine - in addition to Jordan - for two basic reasons:

Such a State had already been rejected in 1937, 1947 and 2000/2001 by the Arabs - and Kerry's hope there might be a change of heart in 2014 was clearly dispelled by the terms of the PLO Charter. A 19 year window of opportunity had been available to create such a state with the simple stroke of an Arab League pen in the entire area at any time between 1948-1967 - yet no attempt had been made to do so.

Kerry was no doubt sincere in his desire to end the 130 years old conflict - but so were those other Secretaries of State who preceded him and got nowhere because they pandered to the PLO -  which has continued to maintain that every international decision since 1920 to the present is null and void.

Kerry's mission impossible not unsurprisingly turned out to be an ignominious diplomatic failure.

Kerry's political redemption will now depend on the release of his long awaited draft framework agreement for peace - promised by Kerry but postponed on at least three occasions due to Kerry's inability to procure agreement to its terms from Israel and the PLO.

Did Kerry's draft framework agreement encompass the following conditions enunciated by President Bush in his letter to Ariel Sharon dated 14 April 2004 - as overwhelmingly endorsed by the Congress :

"The United States reiterates its steadfast commitment to Israel's security, including secure, defensible borders, and to preserve and strengthen Israel's capability to deter and defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats.

"The United States is strongly committed to Israel's security and well-being as a Jewish state. It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair, and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel.

"As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion.

"It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities."

Kerry's imposed code of silence on anyone but Kerry making announcements on the progress of the negotiations can only lead one to speculate on whether these five crucial commitments were included in Kerry's framework agreement

Reports that Netanyahu was prepared to reluctantly sign the framework agreement indicate that some  - but not all  - of the above conditions were incorporated in Kerry's framework agreement -  as would Abbas's reported refusal to sign the last draft under any circumstances..

Trying to tip toe around these American commitments to Israel would certainly have complicated  the negotiations - and Israel's probable insistence that they all be included would surely have created insurmountable problems for Kerry in persuading the PLO to sign.

Kerry needs to come clean and put all the drafts of his framework agreement and the objections raised by Israel and the PLO into the public arena.

Failure to do so will leave Kerry under a diplomatic cloud and open to the claim that he failed to honour written commitments made by President Bush and Congress to Israel in exchange for Israel agreeing to unilaterally disengage from Gaza.

If Kerry has indeed not followed the terms of the Bush 2004 letter in pursuing these current negotiations - then irreparable damage to his diplomatic reputation will become a lasting legacy from which he will find it difficult to recover.

Another repeat of historical amnesia will surely consign Kerry to diplomatic oblivion.