John Kerry’s Unfair Interim Deal For Israel-Palestine


According to reports in the Israeli paper Haaretz, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is close to getting Israel and the Palestinians to agree on an interim deal. As reported by Barak Ravid, and translated into English from Hebrew by Ira Glunts, the five articles of the deal are as follows:

  1. The Palestinians will agree to extend the negotiations for a year, until 2015, and will refrain during this period from taking any unilateral actions at the United Nations.
  2. The United States will free the spy Jonathan Pollard before Passover.
  3. Israel will initiate a fourth round of prisoner releases that will include 14 Israeli Arabs [Palestinian citizens of Israel]
  4. Israel will release 400 Palestinian prisoners “who have no blood on their hands,” that only have a few months remaining on their sentences.  These prisoners to be released will be determined by Israel and will include women and minors.
  5. Israel will freeze most of the construction, except in East Jerusalem, and use restraint [rein in] in publishing building tenders and marketing land to contractors.

Let’s take these one at a time, in mixed order. Article 2 is particularly interesting. Pollard was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 after working as an Israeli spy, infiltrating the U.S. Navy, and secretly passing more than a million highly classified documents to Israel. Israel granted him citizenship in 1995, after eight years in jail, and has been lobbying for his release ever since.

I have to say I’m a little baffled as to why the issue of Pollard’s imprisonment is at all a part of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Pollard has nothing to do with the conflict over territory that has brought the parties to the negotiating table. All I can think is that this is some sort of concession the Israelis are demanding the United States pay for making them go through the trouble of negotiating, as opposed to perpetually and unquestioningly supporting Israel’s gradual annexation of what’s left of Palestine.

Articles 3 and 4 are interesting, too. Releasing 400 non-violent Palestinian prisoners who will be released in a few months anyway doesn’t seem like much of a concession to me. But Israel always characterizes its release of prisoners as a major, back-breaking concession. The inclusion of these articles in this interim deal serves the purpose of being something Israel can point to as a concession (since there are no others on this list).

Article 5, concerning settlement construction, is the most remarkable of all. Notice the incredibly vague and equivocal language. It sounds a lot like Israel will freeze most settlement construction, but taken as a whole it means nothing at all. There is precedent for this. Obama came into office in 2009 calling for a total freeze on settlement construction. Lacking leverage, Netanyahu agreed…and then kept building settlements anyways. Following the 10-month period in which the non-freeze freeze happened, Israel then rapidly increased the rate of settlement construction in what even the New York Times called “a settlement-building boom.”

Settlements, both existing settlements and new ones in construction, are illegal. They are a flagrant violation of international law. That Israel can continue to violate Palestinian sovereignty by building new, state-subsidized Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem while supposedly good faith negotiations move to the next phase is an affront to the senses. Can we image in a scenario in which the PLO is granted authority to continue illegal acts against Israel as an explicit part of an interim deal that is supposed to impose concessions on both sides?

Article 1 notes this interim deal will last for a year, during which negotiations will continue. Leaving aside, for now, all of the foreseeable problems that are bound to come with a final deal, it’s important to note that the Palestinians’ one point of leverage over Israel – full UN membership or even prosecution of Israeli war crimes at the ICC – is off the table in the interim.

Kerry has reportedly received Israel’s approval of this plan. He is waiting on the Palestinians.

Update: Here is the Palestinian response:

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — President Mahmoud Abbas says the Palestinians are “immediately” resuming their bid to win further U.N. recognition and has signed applications for 15 U.N. agencies and conventions.

Abbas’ surprise move late Tuesday could derail U.S.-brokered peace talks with Israel.

12 thoughts on “John Kerry’s Unfair Interim Deal For Israel-Palestine”

  1. Dare we hope that Abbas will follow through? Clearly, US "leaders" are incapable of saying no to even the most outrageous demands from Israel, such as releasing the traitorous, profiteering Pollard, or signing another 10 year agreement for yet more US aid to Israel while US domestic needs go unmet.

  2. This can't be serious….

    I have a better idea, either:

    A) Israel return to its pre-1967 borders, as Mr. Obama himself publicly suggested



    1. All earmarked US “Aid” to Israel will immediately be “released” back to the US Treasury and US taxpayers.

    2. Israel’s mercenary terrorists in Syria will be “returned’ to Israeli soil.

    3. For good measure, all mercenary terrorists who promise “restraint” will be allowed to keep their GCC/NATO/Israeli sponsored "peaceful protest" equipment upon arrival at mother Israel.

    4. The US will also impose ‘targeted sanctions’ on the Israeli leadership, "freeze" Bibi Netanyahu’s personal assets and stipulate Bibi’s physical presence within 50 miles of the United States and its territories (even via commercial aircraft) will be interpreted as an act of aggression and threat to global stability and ‘world peace’.

    5. For his good work, John Kerry will be sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to be briefed on ‘freedom, dignity, and respect for human rights’.

    The ball will be in Israel’s court…they will now have a 'choice'…as Mr. Obama would say… We don't want Mr. Obama to compromise his "credibility"…again…

  3. Pollard demands a pardon and not parole because he wants to be able to leave the US and go to Israel. Also he refuses to be used in a trade for Palestinian hostages. Is this guy serious? I want him executed, and apparently so do most of the people that read the NYT and USA Today. Just read the comments section on either site and you will see that Americans are disgusted by the very idea of releasing this traitorous scumbag. It would be such a stupid thing to do politically, but I'm afraid Obama may feel he can get away with it since he is so practiced at promising one thing and doing the opposite. However the Israel Lobby would give its enemies such an effective tool to accuse them of dual loyalty that it will devastate their ability to work in the shadows. I almost hope they put open political pressure to force Obama to pardon Pollard because their political power would evaporate in the face of public outrage.

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