Then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a bilateral meeting at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan on September 19, 2016. .
(photo credit: REUTERS/DARREN ORNITZ)
While the White House has confirmed that since the Jerusalem Declaration there has been a complete disconnect between the Palestinian Authority and the Trump administration, it turns out that the previous administration has maintained contact with PA officials.
Maariv reported that former US secretary of state John Kerry met in London with a close associate of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Hussein Agha, for a long and open conversation about a variety of topics. Agha apparently reported details of the conversation to senior PA officials in Ramallah. A senior PA official confirmed to Maariv that the meeting took place.
Agha is one of Abbas’s closest associates and one of the veteran peacemakers with Israel.
He conducted the “London Track,” secret negotiations held from 2010 to 2013 between the emissaries of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, attorney Yitzhak Molcho and Brig.-Gen. Mike Herzog, under the supervision and presence of Dennis Ross. Agha also authored with Yossi Beilin the Beilin-Abbas agreement in the 1990s. He is considered a staunch supporter of the peace process, very close to Abbas, and maintains an extensive network of contacts, including Israelis.
During the conversation, according to the report, Kerry asked Agha to convey a message to Abbas and ask him to “hold on and be strong.” Tell him, he told Agha, “that he should stay strong in his spirit and play for time, that he will not break and will not yield to President [Donald] Trump’s demands.”
According to Kerry, Trump will not remain in office for a long time. It was reported that Kerry said that within a year there was a good chance that Trump would not be in the White House.
Kerry offered his help to the Palestinians in an effort to advance the peace process and recommended that Abbas present his own peace plan. “Maybe it is time for the Palestinians to define their peace principles and present a positive plan,” Kerry suggested.
He promised to use all his contacts and all his abilities to get support for such a plan.
He asked Abbas, through Agha, not to attack the US or the Trump administration, but to concentrate on personal attacks on Trump himself, whom Kerry says is solely and directly responsible for the situation.
According to the report, when referring to the president, Kerry used highly derogatory terms. Kerry offered to help create an alternative peace initiative and promised to help garner international support from Europeans, Arab states and the international community.
Kerry hinted that many in the American establishment, as well as in American intelligence, are dissatisfied with Trump’s performance and the way he leads their country.
He surprised his interlocutor by saying he was seriously considering running for president in 2020. When asked about his advanced age, he said he was not much older than Trump and would not have an age problem.
Kerry explained, according to the report, that even in the Republican Party they do not know what to do with Trump and are very dissatisfied with him and that patience and breathing time are needed to get through this difficult period.
In a report on the conversation, Agha said that Kerry appears to be “crazy about things,” very energetic, and someone who is yearning to help realize the dream of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
It is reasonable to assume that the Netanyahu government will use the details of this conversation to claim that Kerry is “obsessed and messianic
” and pro-Palestinian. It is not certain that this thesis stands the test of reality.
It should be remembered that Kerry is an old friend of Netanyahu and has been a consistent supporter of Israel for decades. He believes that a genuine peace process is essential for both sides and for the survival of the State of Israel, and that the two-state solution is the only realistic option that will enable Israel to continue to maintain its character as a Jewish democratic state.
It is indeed obsessive on Kerry’s part. This “obsession” was once permitted, but has recently become almost illegitimate and post-Zionist.
Agha preferred not to respond. Kerry’s response could not be obtained.