Israelis, Palestinians, pour cold water on Kerry’s security ‘ideas’

Officials say PM rejects idea Israel would relinquish control of Jordan Valley; PA says US appeasing Israel because of Iran deal.

Abbas and Netanyahu 2010 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Abbas and Netanyahu 2010 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and senior Palestinian spokesmen doused any optimism on Monday that the US-led Israeli- Palestinian talks were on the verge of a breakthrough.
Israel was not on the way to a final-status agreement with the Palestinians initiated by US Secretary of State John Kerry, Prime Minister Netanyahu told his Likud Beytenu faction at the Knesset on Monday.
Kerry fueled some of the sudden buoyancy about the diplomatic process, expressing optimism about progress in a speech Saturday at the Saban Forum in Washington.
Kerry’s scheduled return to the region on Wednesday for another round of talks, so soon after meeting here three times with Netanyahu and once with Abbas last Thursday and Friday, has also fueled speculation that something was moving.
The thrust of Kerry’s efforts now, according to diplomatic officials, centers on security “ideas” that the US has put on the table for the day after the establishment of a Palestinian state.
According to the officials, these ideas – drawn up by a US team headed by retired General John Allen – are designed to provide solutions to Israel’s security concerns if it withdraws from parts of the West Bank.
The ideas are believed to deal with everything from control of airspace, to satellite surveillance, to security control of the Jordan River.
MKs said that Netanyahu, in the closed-door faction meeting, rejected the security plan, saying it was important to maintain Israeli, not American, forces on the border with Jordan.
“We need to be there in the Jordan Valley,” a minister close to Netanyahu said. “Jihadist elements are there and we cannot have that on our border.
When we left Abbas in charge of Gaza, we saw how long he lasted.”
The minister mocked the American proposal for relying on hi-tech security arrangements.
“Technology is not enough to fight terror,” he said. “It can’t be stopped just with sensors and fences.”
On the Palestinian side, PLO secretary-general Yasser Abed Rabbo derided the security plan, telling the Voice of Palestine radio station that Kerry was trying to “appease Israel by fulfilling its expansionist demands in the Jordan Valley under the pretext of security.”
He also accused Kerry of backing Israel’s “expansionist ambitions of settlement activities in Jerusalem and the West Bank,” and said the secretary of state was to blame for the current crisis in the peace talks.
Abed Rabbo claimed that Kerry was trying to “buy Israeli silence” over the recent nuclear deal between Iran and the six big powers.
“Kerry is trying to achieve an imaginary success on the Israeli-Palestinian track at our expense,” he added.
Abed Rabbo also accused Kerry of endorsing a “disparaging” attitude in his dealings with the Palestinians. The US, he continued, should appease Israel at the expense of its own interests and not those of the Palestinians.
Similarly, Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh reiterated that there would be no agreement with Israel without the release of Palestinian prisoners.
The PA’s announcement came in response to a report in Ma’ariv, according to which Kerry had threatened the Palestinians that the release of prisoners, slated for later this month, would be postponed.
“We won’t accept any delay in the release of prisoners,” Abu Rudaineh said. “Also, there will be no peace without Jerusalem.”