THE John Kerry carrot is a billion dollars in new investment for the West Bank if the Israelis and Palestinians come to an agreement, if not peace. President Obama is hoping the investment will make the difference, but no one who’s been watching for years is expecting a miracle, because we’ve all had our hearts broken too many times.
From Eli Lake and Josh Rogin over at the Daily Beast:
Tuesday’s warm words and cheery photos masked the fact that neither side has yet agreed to much in substance. A senior State Department official who briefed the press acknowledged as much when he said that neither the Palestinian nor Israeli sides had agreed to President Obama’s basic formulation from a major speech in 2011, when he announced that the basis for negotiations should be Israel’s de facto border before 1967″”with land swaps. “It would not be safe to say the parties have accepted that position,” the senior official said. Other diplomatic sources familiar with the negotiations confirmed that account.
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, treated Obama’s 2011 formulation as a slap in the face. During a joint photo opportunity after the president delivered the speech, Netanyahu lectured Obama about how dangerous Israel’s position was in the world. From the Israeli perspective, the Obama position on the starting point for talks changed a long-standing U.S. policy that Israel would not be expected to return to the pre-1967 armistice lines.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian position on this issue has hardened in recent years as well. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, told Arab reporters on Monday that he considered all Jewish settlements in the territory Israel won in the 1967 war to be illegal. “In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli””civilian or soldier””on our lands,” he said. As recently as 2008, Abbas had accepted significant swaps over the 1967 lines in his negotiations with then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert.