MENA Mashup: The Peace Farce Drags on, Iran Proposes Sweeping Changes
Phil Weiss, of Mondoweiss, best described today’s tête-à-tête between Bibi and Kerry…
Here’s the transcript. Netanyahu begins by talking all about Iran. The Palestinians are an afterthought, and they’re to blame. His manner is impatient: “I see the Palestinians continuing with incitement, continuing to create artificial crises, continuing to avoid, run away from the historic decisions that are needed to make a genuine peace…”
We seek peace with the Palestinians. We’ve spoken, John, many, many times about this, and because of your efforts, we launched several months ago an initiative to seek a peaceful agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. I want peace with the Palestinians; Israel wants peace with the Palestinians. We agreed three months ago on certain terms. We stand by those terms. We abide scrupulously by the terms of the agreement and the understanding on which we launched the negotiations.
I’m concerned about their progress because I see the Palestinians continuing with incitement, continuing to create artificial crises, continuing to avoid, run away from the historic decisions that are needed to make a genuine peace. I hope that your visit will help steer them back to a place where we could achieve the historical peace that we seek and that our people deserve.
Kerry begins his remarks by commenting on who Netanyahu’s not, Yitzhak Rabin:
We are in the Rabin Suite here, and last night I had the privilege of visiting the site where violence took the life of a great prime minister who was moving towards peace. And I’d often heard President Clinton talk about the meaning of that loss and that moment to the loss of an opportunity for peace.
So I’m honored to be in the Rabin Suite meeting with the Prime Minister of Israel at a moment where we are in critical talks with respect to the possibilities of a long, long sought goal here in the Middle East. Israel deserves security, deserves to live in peace. The Palestinians deserve a state and deserve to live in peace, and that is what we are working towards.
He touches on Iran but says that the peace process is the big enchilada, and that Israel too has to show good faith:
We are now three months into this negotiation. There are always difficulties, always tensions. I’m very confident of our ability to work through them. That’s why I’m here. We will spend serious time this morning. I will meet with President Abbas this afternoon. Again this evening, the Prime Minister and I and his team will share a working dinner, and we’ll work as late as it takes. And again tomorrow, I will be here in the region and working on this. So I hope that we will continue in the good faith that brought the parties together in the first place that this can be achieved. With good faith, with a serious effort on both sides to make real compromises and hard decisions, this can be achieved. President Obama sees the road ahead, as do I, and we share a belief in this process or we wouldn’t put this time into it.
Greeting Kerry, as well, was this lovely little Israeli declaration…
Negotiators tell Palestinian officials they will not get a state based on 1967 borders, Israeli reports say.
Israeli negotiators have told their Palestinian counterparts that the Separation Wall that cuts through the occupied West Bank will serve as the border of a future Palestinian state, local media reports said.
Just hours before US Secretary of State John Kerry’s arrival for top-level talks on ongoing direct peace negotiations on Tuesday, two press reports said the Israeli team had made the proposal.
“Israel’s opening position was that the border be the route of the separation barrier [wall], and not the 1967 lines as the Palestinians have demanded,” public radio said in a report, which also featured in the top-selling Yediot Aharonot.
Since talks resumed in late July, the Palestinians have repeatedly complained about Israel’s lack of clarity on the issue of borders.
The Palestinians insist the talks be based on the lines that existed before the 1967 Six Day War, when Israeli seized and occupied Gaza, the West Bank and Arab east Jerusalem.
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected any return to the 1967 lines as “indefensible”, saying that would not take into account the “demographic changes” over the past 46 years, in a clear euphemism for Jewish settlements.
McClatchy describes it as merely… A linguistic debate on Israeli settlements.
Another reason Bibi was so tense…
The Obama administration is hoping to rapidly secure a deal with Iran that would temporarily freeze the country’s nuclear program and buy time for diplomats to try to hammer out a more comprehensive agreement restricting Tehran’s future ability to seek atomic weapons, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
A proposal to be formally presented to Iran during negotiations this week would likely require the Islamic republic to suspend its production of enriched uranium and agree to additional curbs, concessions that would be rewarded with a modest, temporary easing of financial sanctions, according to a senior U.S. official knowledgeable about the plan.
In which, quelle surprise…!
Israel is reportedly urging its Western allies to reject an expected proposal to limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for limited relief from crippling economic sanctions.
“Israel in the last few hours has learned that a proposal will be brought before the P5+1 in Geneva in which Iran will cease all enrichment at 20 percent and slow down work on the heavy water reactor in Arak, and will receive in return the easing of sanctions,” an Israeli official told AFP Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Israel thinks this is a bad deal and will oppose it strongly,” the official added.
A senior US official, speaking to reporters on Wednesday said both sides are coming to the table in Geneva Thursday with an understanding of what they want from each other as a “first step” — and what they are willing to give in return. She, too, asked for anonymity as a condition for participation in her briefing.
She said the six world powers — the US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany — are ready to offer “limited, targeted and reversible” sanctions relief in response to agreement by Iran to start rolling back activities that could be used to make weapons.
But, much to Israel’s chagrin, it wasn’t just Iran’s Nuke program… Iran has said it is ready to call for the withdrawal of foreign fighters in Syria.
Interestingly, as Jim White wrote today…
…Hmm. I will take “quite constructive” any day when you have Israel and Iran among 13 or 14 delegations discussing how we get to a Middle East free of WMD’s. Given the actual progress on Syria’s chemical weapons and the apparent progress on Iran’s nuclear work, there is hope for the first time in many years that concrete steps could be taken to remove a number of devastating weapons from an area where their use could unleash unprecedented damage and decades of reprisals. I know, it’s crazy, but imagine both Israel and Iran without any nuclear weapons or their technology (or chem or bio weapons, either) and a system of international parties working together on verification. Not likely, but that people are even working toward it now is very encouraging.
Another take on that ‘secret meeting’…
The largely unprecedented meeting commenced in the Swiss village of Glion near Montreux, and an additional meeting has already been planned before the end of the year, according to an Arab diplomat who participated in the meeting.
Israeli officials reported that the envoys shared their national positions, but the Jewish state did not have any direct communication with the Iranian or Arab delegates. “That they were there, the Israelis and Iran, is the main thing,” said an Arab diplomat.
Do you suppose there’s a chance that Sanity will ever prevail…?
(H/T Annie Robbins)