The cost of aggression
December 05, 2013 - 7:14:25 am
Pressure is piling on US Secretary of State John Kerry to save Israeli-Palestinian peace talks from total collapse. A desperate plea has come from the chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who said Kerry must try hard to salvage the American-brokered talks. Erekat’s desperation is caused by a slew of factors. First, Kerry was busy negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran in the past few weeks, giving him hardly any time to pursue the talks with Israel and Palestinians he had started. According to Palestinian officials, the last negotiations took place on November 5, and since then there have been communications with the Israeli side, but they couldn’t be called negotiations. Secondly, the delay in talks with Israel will cost Palestinians financially. indications that the EU is considering cutting funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) if there is no breakthrough. An EU official is reported to have said that if the talks fail, “we will ask ourselves: why continue to transfer hundreds of millions to the Palestinian Authority?” The funds would be likely to “fade away” without the establishment of a Palestinian state, he added.
Officials had considered cutting the funding earlier this year but decided to delay the decision when peace talks began, awaiting diplomatic resolution. Third, there is an increase in tension between Israelis and Palestinians. Sixteen Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed since negotiations began in July.
All eyes are now on Kerry on how he would proceed with the Palestinian-Israeli file. Kerry is basking in the glory of his Iranian success, and though that success will give him plenty of moral courage and energy to push ahead with his Middle East peace plan, he is fully aware of the magnitude of the challenge ahead. Also, Israeli Prime Minister is terribly upset with Washington over the Iran deal and therefore would try to throw only more hurdles in the way of negotiations to retaliate against the nuclear deal. Kerry is expected to arrive in the region today for his first visit since the Iran deal.
Israel must realize that there is no alternative to making concessions in its dispute with Palestinians. Tel Aviv’s intransigence has a cost as Europeans are increasingly getting angry with its settlement plans. For example, European Union guidelines unveiled this year bar any EU grants or funding for scientific or research project with ties to the settlements. Israel has already agreed to join a EU scientific research project, despite the fact it bars funding for any Israeli entity with operations beyond the 1967 Green Line.
If Israel has tasted defeat on the Iran issue, with its closest ally not caring a hoot about its concern, the reality on the Palestinian issue is not going to be different in the long run.•