By Sam Bahour
The first proclaimed leak from Secretary John Kerry’s efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as it is so often called, were published last week in the reputable London-based daily Arabic newspaper, Al-Hayat. The source is said to be from a posting from the website of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, who claim the information was leaked to them by someone attending the tightly closed negotiating sessions. The validity of this claim and the contents of the leak are unverifiable and the infighting between Hamas and Fatah give both a vested interest to publicly damage the other, however, a read through the supposed leaked information makes anyone familiar with this issue take a worrying note.
The Al-Hayat article on the leak states that Secretary Kerry obtained Palestinian President Abbas’ approval on general parameters for the restart of negotiations, at meetings between the two in Amman on 17-18 July 2013, prior to Secretary Kerry’s announcement that negotiations would restart. According to the leaked document, “Kerry set a maximum period of time ranging from 6 to 9 months would be dedicated to bilateral Palestinian-Israeli negotiations … without any preconditions,” beyond the principles listed below and whereby Jordan participates in meetings on refugees, Jerusalem and borders where necessary:
1. “The Separation Wall will serve as the security borders of the ‘Jewish’ state, and the temporary border of the ‘Palestinian’ state… Both parties will acknowledge and announce this.”
2. There will be “an exchange in disputed territories within the plan of the Separation Wall noted above, as agreed to by both parties and with the blessing of the Arab League Follow-up Committee, as specified by this Committee to Mr. Kerry during their last visit to Washington, ranging in size from eight to ten percent of West Bank lands.”
3. There will be also be a “freeze in the settlement projects at a number of outposts, as approved by the Israeli government, which does not apply to existing projects in large settlement communities located in the vicinity of Jerusalem and in the Jordan Valley, including the settlements of Ma’ale Adumim, Givat Ze’ev, Har Homa, Gilo, Neve Yacov, Ramat Shlomo, Ramat Alman, Kiryat Arba’, and other densely populated settlements.”
4. The document adds that “residents in frozen settlement communities will have the right to choose between Israeli citizenship, or Palestinian citizenship, or both, at the conclusion of negotiations,” and that “talks will culminate with a historic agreement … along the lines of the Oslo Agreement, during which both parties will announce the end of the historic conflict between their peoples, as well as full normalization with all Arab states, at a celebratory meeting attended by the Arab League and representatives of all Arab countries, announcing their approval of Israel’s establishment of a Palestinian state within the limits set out … above, according to agreements…. concluded by the two parties at the end of the negotiations, which will also entail Palestinian recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people.”
5. It adds that “at the end of negotiations some Palestinian families will be allowed to reunite in the West Bank, Rafah and Gaza, while others will have the right to compensation, or emigration … to Arab countries, especially the Gulf…” where they will be “…naturalized… utilizing the Right of Return Fund for this purpose.”
6. Concerning the status of East Jerusalem, the leaked document indicates that it will be “placed under an international administration (Palestinian-Israeli-Jordanian) for ten years, whereby resident Israelis in East Jerusalem will have the right to choose their identity,” i.e. citizenship.
7. Furthermore, “Israelis and Palestinians agree to discuss the issue of land exchanges, in the West Bank and Jerusalem, through negotiating committees despite the non-core points of contention between the two parties… especially those points that are considered important by the delegation of the Arab League, including the proposal to grant citizenship to every Palestinian who has been resident in the Gulf for more than ten years.”
8. The document indicates that there will be a “discussion of executive steps in this agreement during negotiations within the time-limit mentioned above, and that its implementation will extend to ten years from the signing of the agreement.”
9. Israel will also “release a number of Palestinian detainees have who spent twenty years or more in detention, and no longer pose a security threat.”
10. It also stipulates that “President Mahmoud Abbas will call for legislative and presidential elections in the West Bank after the public announcement of the Agreement, in anticipation of the possibility of the emergence of objections to it, and that the terms of the agreement will not fully be announced until after the start of negotiations and the preoccupation of Palestinians with the battles of the Legislative Council and the Presidency.”
11. It also says that “with the signing of the agreement at the end of the specified time-limit and the declaration of an independent Palestinian state, the Palestinians and Jordanians will, with the blessing of Israel and the Arabs, reach an understandings on the role of Jordanian security assistance … to the Palestinian Authority … to stand by its side and help it overcome potential internal or external dangers … as part of a Confederation, which will be announced in conjunction with a trilateral economic initiative, in which Israel will play an active role in its formation.”
Shocking, to say the least!
If these are anywhere near the truth, the region should be preparing for yet another major fallout, this time in Palestine and Israel, again.
If the U.S. and Israel continue to choose the game of might is right, then they should expect, sooner rather than later, a new generation of Palestinians to look Israel straight in the eye and say, “You win! You get it all Israel: Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, both east and west sides, all of the settlements, all of the water, all of the Jordan Valley, all of the electromagnetic spectrum, all of the airspace, and most importantly, you also get all of us. Now, we heard you have free health care in Israel; where do we pick up our medical cards? We also want some of that free education too.”
In other words, if the U.S. and Israel are adamant to throw into the sea international law, humanitarian law, UN resolutions, human rights, rights of refugees, and sheer common sense, then expect the Palestinians to redefine their self-determination from a struggle for statehood to a struggle for civil rights between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.
In the words of the late Palestinian (and global) intellectual, Edward Said, it’s “equality or nothing.” What is it about these three simple words that are so hard to comprehend?
– Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American business development consultant from Youngstown, Ohio, living in the Palestinian city of Al-Bireh in the West Bank. He frequently provides independent commentary on Palestine and serves as a policy advisor of Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network. He is co-author of HOMELAND: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians (1994) and blogs at http://www.epalestine.com.