Netanyahu bends to blame EU for Kerry's failure

July 18, 2013
Sarah Benton

This posting has these items:
AFTER EU DECISION: what’s harming negotiations
1) Ynet news: Report: Kerry to announce on Friday resumption of negotiations;
2) Ha’aretz: ‘Israelis will lose faith in EU’ ;
3) EU business: Israel PM tells Kerry EU harming peace talks push ;
BEFORE EU DECISION what’s harming negotiations
4) Reuters: Netanyahu denies agreeing to peace talks based on ’67 lines, business as usual, July 18;
5) AFP: Israel must build 10,000 new W. Bank homes: minister, business as usual, July 11;
See also New nakba in Negev: day of protest
6) Notes and links , including which EU body is which;

Netanyahu hangs on to his friends, Lady Ashton and Tony Blair, Quartet. Photo by Moshe Milner, GPO/ Flickr.

Report: Kerry to announce on Friday resumption of negotiations

Palestinian sources in Jordan tell Al-Hayat US secretary of state will announce negotiations renewal upon Jordan departure. Meanwhile, President Peres says ‘Kerry on verge of breakthrough, EU should avoid boycott’

By Elior Levy, Attila Somfalvi, Ynet news
July 18, 2013

The London-based Arabic Al-Hayat newspaper reported Thursday morning that according to officials in the Palestinian embassy in Amman, US Secretary of State John Kerry will announce the official resumption of negotiations on Friday morning, upon his departure from Jordan. The report was not confirmed by any other source.

President Shimon Peres addressed the recent diplomatic developments and tied them to the European Union’s decision to bar member nations from cooperating with Israeli organizations and businesses operating in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. According to Peres, “I have information that US Secretary of State John Kerry is on the verge of a breakthrough, and thus I request the Europeans to avoid the boycott.”

Peres added: “I call on the Europeans to prioritize peace. The sanctions sabotage the negotiations and cause damage. There is a chance for a breakthrough; I call on the (European) Union to refrain from this move.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to convene the Palestinian leadership and present the conclusions from his talks with Kerry in Amman. After the two held two meetings, it appears there is progress towards the possibility of renewed negotiations.

The meeting is expected to include members of the Fatah Central Committee, the PLO Executive Committee, and leaders of various Palestinian factions. Until now, there was a limited group within the Palestinian leadership that knew of the Kerry-Abbas talks’ details, and Thursday will be the first time most of the Palestinian leadership will be informed first-hand about what Abbas had achieved in the talks.

The Palestinian leadership meeting was advanced due to Abbas’ request to inform all parties prior to Kerry’s departure. During his stay in Amman, Kerry met with members of the Arab Peace Initiative Follow-Up Committee, and called on them to support Abbas and ease his return to the negotiation table.

“The Committee members have stressed their commitment to achieving just and widespread peace in the Middle East, in cooperation with the US and all other parties involved,” a statement by the Jordanian Foreign Ministry, which hosted the meeting, read. The statement further noted that the Committee expresses great support of Kerry’s efforts in regards to the renewal of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Domestic criticism of Mahmoud Abbas could increase if he agrees to return to direct talks with Israel. A senior Palestinian source said that it seems Kerry is unable to convince Israel to fully agree to negotiations based on the 1967 borders, freezing construction of settlements, and releasing all 103 prisoners imprisoned in Israel prior to the Oslo Accords . According to the source, “even if we had agreed to negotiations, it would be a waste of time since we very well know that (Israeli Prime Minister) Netanyahu has no intention of reaching a peace agreement. The continued settlements construction is his top priority.”

It was reported Wednesday that the American plan to renew negotiations includes three main approaches: A diplomatic approach to bring parties back to the negotiating table, a security approach in which a US general was appointed to assess the situation in a visit to the region, and the third approach is economic.

West Bank airport
Until now, economic benefits to be given to the Palestinian Authority were publicly discussed, yet most of them remained vague. Israel demands that all steps, including the release of prisoners and economic incentives, will be conducted gradually.

Western sources told Ynet Wednesday that in meetings with international sources on the issue of renewing peace talks with Israel, the Palestinians stipulated that they be granted approval to build an airport in Ramallah – the first in the West Bank. According to the sources, the airport will serve helicopters and light planes, and the Palestinians are asking that it be build in Area A, which is exclusively under Palestinian control.

You can contact Elior Levy, Ynet’s Palestinian Affairs Correspondent, at:

‘Israelis will lose faith in EU’

Netanyahu to ask EU leaders: Help postpone EU guidelines on Israeli settlements

In an interview with Germany’s Die Welt, Netanyahu says Europeans ‘have been whining for years’ that the U.S. is not involved enough in peace negotiations, and are now undermining that very effort.

By Barak Ravid, Ha’aretz
July 17, 2013

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to phone a number of European leaders on Wednesday and ask them to help postpone the publication of the new European Union guidelines concerning Israeli settlements.

The guidelines are expected to be officially released on Friday and go into effect on January 1, 2014.

A senior Israeli official said that Netanyahu has already spoken to a few European leaders on Wednesday morning, and that they told him they were not aware of the new guidelines or the plan to release them on Friday. On Tuesday, Netanyahu was scheduled to speak with EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton, but the conversation was postponed and will likely take place on Wednesday.

In an interview with Germany’s Die Welt newspaper on Tuesday, Netanyahu sharply criticized the EU decision, and claimed the move undermines the efforts of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to renew peace negotiations.

“For years the Europeans have been whining about the fact that the Americans are not involved enough,” Netanyahu said. “Now that they are involved, this action actually undermines the American efforts and undermines the negotiations.”

According to Netanyahu, the EU’s move “causes Israelis to lose confidence in the impartiality of Europe. It’s just the wrong way to go.” He added that Israel will not allow its borders to be determined through external economic pressure, but rather only through negotiations.

Israel PM tells Kerry EU harming peace talks push

EU business
17 July 2013

JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Washington on Wednesday that EU moves to end dealings with Jewish settlements were harming its peace talks drive, an Israeli official said.

In a telephone call with Secretary of State John Kerry, who is in neighbouring Jordan on his latest bid to revive direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Netanyahu warned that the EU was “damaging efforts to restart the talks”.

The European Union is to publish new guidelines for its 28 member states on Friday that will block all funding of, or dealings with, Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, including annexed east Jerusalem.

Netanyahu convened an emergency meeting on Tuesday after the EU approved the guidelines, which will affect all grants, prizes and funding from the bloc from 2014 onwards.

“We shall not accept any external dictates on our borders,” Netanyahu’s office quoted him as telling his justice and trade ministers and deputy foreign minister.

“That is an issue that will be decided only in direct negotiations between the sides.”

Netanyahu denies agreeing to peace talks based on ’67 lines

By JPost/Reuters
July 18, 2013

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu denied on Tuesday an official’s remarks that Israel had agreed to resume peace talks based on the borders of a Palestinian state being drawn along lines from before a 1967 Middle East war, and agreed land swaps.

Mark Regev, a spokesman for Netanyahu, said “the report is untrue,” calling Reuters with the statement after initially declining to comment on what the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official had said that, were the Palestinians to accept the formula, it would be announced by US Secretary of State John Kerry now in Jordan, who would also describe the future Palestine as existing alongside a “Jewish state” of Israel.

Asked about Reuters’ initial report that Israel had agreed to the 1967 formula, a US official cautioned that “there is a great deal of inaccurate information out there right now and our focus is continuing to work through details with both parties”.

Speculation has been rife that Kerry, now in the region for his sixth time since March in an effort to revive peace talks that deadlocked in 2010, may be close to a breakthrough.

Israel has previously balked at agreeing to the 1967 borders as a basis for talks with Palestinians. But the latest proposal addresses a longstanding central demand made by Netanyahu that the Palestinians explicitly recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was conferring with Palestinian leaders on Thursday to decide whether to accept Kerry’s proposals for renewing talks with Israel.

Kerry said on Wednesday after talks with Abbas in neighboring Jordan that gaps between the sides had “very significantly” narrowed. An Arab League committee endorsed Kerry’s proposals for resuming peace talks, saying they “provide the ground and a suitable environment to start negotiations”.

Kerry is reportedly set to officially announce the resumption of the peace process before leaving Amman on Friday morning, London-based Al-Hayat reported.

Citing sources at the Palestinian embassy in Amman, the report stated that there has been significant process between Kerry and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

On Wednesday evening, Kerry urged Israel to carefully consider the 2002 Arab League peace initiative, in a comment that could presage this initiative becoming part of the terms of reference for restarting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

“Israel needs to look hard at this initiative, which promises Israel peace with 22 Arab nations and 35 Muslim nations – a total of 57 nations that are standing and waiting for the possibility of making peace with Israel,” he said in Amman, where he met officials from Arab League member countries and Abbas.

The plan, put forward by Saudi Arabia at an Arab League summit in Beirut in 2002, offered full recognition of Israel but only if it returned fully to the June 4, 1967 lines, including on the Golan Heights and in east Jerusalem, and to a “just solution” for Palestinian refugees. Softening the plan three months ago, a top Qatari official raised the possibility of land swaps in setting future Israeli-Palestinian borders.

Kerry voiced confidence he was on track toward achieving soon a resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, saying gaps had been greatly narrowed.

“We have been able to narrow these gaps very significantly. And so we continue to get closer and I continue to remain hopeful that the sides can soon be able to come and sit at the same table.”

His meeting with Abbas in the Jordanian capital was Kerry’s second in as many days. It was to be followed, according to a Palestinian official, by a briefing on the US proposals that Abbas will give to other PLO leaders on Thursday ahead of a decision on whether they should resume negotiations with Israel.

The Arab League endorsed Kerry’s peace efforts Wednesday, saying in a statement carried on the Jordanian news agency that it hoped this could lead to a two-state solution.

The statement said that the Arab League delegation in Amman affirmed “its support for Kerry’s great efforts to revive peace talks between the Palestinian and Israeli sides and pointed out that the ideas put forward by Kerry before the committee provide the ground and a suitable environment to start negotiations, especially in new and important political, economic and security issues”.

The League delegation “expressed hope that this will lead to a launch of serious negotiations to address all final status issues to end the conflict and achieve a just and comprehensive peace between the Palestinians and Israelis which will bless the region with security, stability and prosperity.” The delegation emphasized “its commitment to the Arab peace initiative, stressing that any future agreement must be based on a two-state solution through the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the lines of the fourth of June 1967 with a limited exchange of territory of the same value and size”.

The League officials expressed “appreciation to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry for their efforts and their commitment to achieve peace” and also “their commitment to achieving a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East in cooperation with the United States and with all relevant parties.” Neither US nor Palestinian officials have given details of the discussions between Abbas and Kerry, who is making his sixth visit to the region since he took office in February.

Israeli officials declined to comment on the matter until after the PLO leaders make their decision.

Israel must build 10,000 new W. Bank homes: minister

July 11, 2013

Israel is ready to “immediately” build 10,000 homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem to lower housing costs, Housing Minister Uri Ariel was quoted as saying on Thursday.

“To immediately alleviate the housing crisis we must massively build in (east) Jerusalem and the settlement blocs in Judaea and Samaria,” the Yediot Aharonot newspaper quoted Ariel as telling a parliamentary committee.

“Settlements like Beit Arye, Ofarim, Elkana are in the centre of the land,” he said, “and we are prepared to launch 10,000 units there immediately.”

On his Facebook page, pro-settler Ariel noted that “For an entire year there has been no state marketing in Judaea and Samaria (the biblical term for the West Bank) and east Jerusalem.”

“Not marketing these units is raising the costs of homes nationwide,” he wrote.

In May, settlement watchdog Peace Now said that no new tenders had been issued for West Bank homes as newspapers suggested that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to “rein in” construction to help US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to renew a peace process.

Israel seized east Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never accepted by the international community. It does not see east Jerusalem construction as settlement building.

But the Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

The Palestinians have said they will not return to direct talks unless Israel completely halts settlement construction and accepts the 1967 lines as the basis for negotiations.

Although Israel has expressed a willingness to resume talks, it has insisted it would only do so if there were no such “preconditions”.

Notes and links
Meet Catherine Ashton, Tony Blair’s pro-Israel proxy in the EU, critical article from Max Blumenthal, July 1st.

Lady Ashton is the EU’s first High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. She is the head of the European External Action Service, EEAS.She is accountable to both the European Council and the European Commission.

The European Council is an EU institution. It is made up of the heads of government of members of the EU and its role is to make policy and determine strategic direction for the EU. Decisions should be unanimous. It has a President, who is currently Herman van Rompuy.

The Council of the European Union is a meeting of ministers from all member states; it has the power to adopt laws and co-ordinate policies between member states. Its presidency rotates ever six months among members of the Council.

The European Commission is the public face of the EU and its full-time government. Its heads are Commissioners, one from each member state. They are appointed by the European Council and accountable to the European parliament. It proposes and enforces laws, disperses funds and is responsible for the day-to-day running of the EU. Its President is currently José Manuel Barroso.

The Council of Europe is NOT an EU body. It is primarily a human rights body and guardian of international human rights law. It has 47 members – all the states of Europe except Belarus, Macedonia and Vatican City.

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