Today this story appeared in my local newspaper:
Israeli settlement plans sank peace talks
By Paul Richter
Tribune Washington Bureau
[The Tribune Company owns The LA Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, and numerous other newspapers and media properties — ed.]
Washington — Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Tuesday that Israel’s announcement last week of new housing for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem led to the breakdown of his eight-month effort to reach a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians. …
“Seven hundred settlement units were announced in Jerusalem and, poof, that was sort of the moment,” Kerry said. …
First, let me note that The Fresno Bee should have prefaced its headline with “Kerry says” or just “Kerry:” As it stands it is simply and egregiously false.
Now I’ll list a few things about this story that my neighbors probably aren’t aware of, and won’t be made aware of by their local paper or numerous other media that use content from the same source.
1. Israel had agreed to release 104 Palestinian prisoners, most guilty of murder, in four batches, in return for the Palestinians’ participating in direct negotiations. After the third round of releases in December, the Palestinians stopped meeting with the Israelis. The PA, not Israel, violated its commitment.
2. Released murderers were feted as heroes by the Palestinian Authority (PA) on their return, including murderers of old people, women and children. Incitement to murder continued unabated in PA media. The PA, not Israel, violated the spirit of ‘peace’ negotiations.
3. Israel delayed the release of the final batch of murderers because a) the Palestinians would not agree to extend negotiations further and b) the Palestinians were demanding that prisoners who were Israeli citizens also should be included, something Israel had not previously agreed to. The PA first broke its promise to sit at the table with Israel, and then made new demands.
4. Three days after the scheduled prisoner release, the Palestinians violated their written commitments to Israel and the US that they would seek statehood through bilateral negotiations rather than directly from the UN, by applying to join some 15 UN treaties and conventions. At this point, PM Netanyahu decided that Israel would not release the last batch of murderers. Can you blame him?
5. One of the sticking points during negotiations was the Palestinian refusal to agree to some formulation of the idea that an agreement would recognize that Israel — the part that would remain after a Palestinian state was created — belonged to the Jewish people (as opposed to the Palestinian Arabs). They refused to say that an agreement would end claims against Israel, negate their demand for a ‘right of return’, or end the conflict. In other words, the PA is ready to receive Israel’s terms of surrender, but not to compromise for peace.
6. Finally, the housing tenders that Kerry referred to were located in the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo, in Jerusalem, one of the neighborhoods that — if it were agreed that Jerusalem would be divided — would certainly continue to be part of Israel. So they could have absolutely no effect on a peace agreement. And these were announced after the Palestinians made their move to the UN.
But this is what made the negotiations go ‘poof’, according to Mr. Kerry!