First Published: 2013-12-09

Abed Rabbo breaks with tradition in criticism of Washington
Senior Palestinian official warns Kerry's proposals on security will lead to ‘total failure’ of struggling peace talks with Israel.
Middle East Online

‘Kerry only wants to win over Israelis’

RAMALLAH - US Secretary of State John Kerry's proposals on security will lead to the "total failure" of the struggling peace talks with Israel, a senior Palestinian official warned on Monday.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top official with the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), said Kerry's ideas on the future configuration of security arrangements which were presented to the Palestinian leadership last week, had provoked a "real crisis".

"These ideas will drive Kerry's efforts to an impasse and to total failure because he is treating our issues with a high degree of indifference," he said.

His remarks were made just days after Kerry wrapped up his latest visit to the region in a bid forward to drive forward the negotiations, which have been treading water since they were launched in late July.

The proposals focus on security arrangements in the Jordan Valley which runs down the eastern flank of the West Bank, with commentators saying it would allow Israel to maintain a long-term military presence there.

Unsurprisingly, the US suggestions reportedly won a positive reaction from the Israelis, but were sharply dismissed by the Palestinians as "very bad ideas, which we cannot accept".

Israel has always insisted on maintaining a military presence in the Jordan Valley, but the notion has been rejected out of hand by the Palestinians who claim it would make a mockery of their sovereignty and merely perpetuate the occupation.

"(Kerry) only wants to win over the Israelis and (allow) settlement expansion at our expense," Abed Rabbo charged.

Earlier on Monday, an Israeli newspaper said that Washington was considering delaying the planned release of another 26 veteran Palestinian prisoners in a bid to pressure Ramallah into agreeing to its security proposals.

Several senior Palestinian officials reacted by stressing that the leadership would not accept any delay in the releases, which are due to take place at the end of the month.

"We completely reject any postponement in releasing the third batch of prisoners who should be freed on December 29," Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said by phone from Washington.

Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina echoed his remarks in a statement to the official WAFA news agency, saying the leadership "would not accept the postponement of the release of prisoners".

Abed Rabbo too rejected any delay in implementing the third phase of releases -- one of the conditions agreed on that brought the two sides back to the negotiating table for the first time in nearly three years.

"Our position is clear; Israel should implement the agreement, period," he told Voice of Palestine radio. "We insist on full implementation of the prisoner agreement, including releasing the third batch at the end of December."

Last week, Haaretz newspaper said Kerry was pushing to get some form of agreement on security as a way of driving the direct negotiations forward.

"The Americans hope that if they come to an understanding with (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu on the security issue, they can demand (he) begin to present clear positions on the border of the future Palestinian state," the paper said.

Although Kerry's proposals have reportedly gone a long way in addressing Israel's security demands, they have also pushed the Israeli leader in to a tight corner, commentators said.

Writing in the top-selling Yediot Aharonot, Nahum Barnea said Kerry's plan had posed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with "a serious problem."

"The military plan ... robs Netanyahu of the immediate argument that he raised every time he was called upon to discuss drawing up the future border between Israel and Palestine: security arrangements."

The US plan "reopens the internal debate on the 1967 lines and the fate of the settlements," he said, suggesting that the pressure could cause Netanyahu's coalition to collapse.

"In this debate, it is not only public opinion that is divided, but also the government and the coalition. If Netanyahu has to decide where he is headed -- a constraint he abhors -- he will find a government that is headed for a split," he wrote.

 

Egypt declares three-month state of emergency in Sinai

Lebanon army attacks Islamists as violence spreads to Tripoli souks

Dozens dead in Huthi-Qaeda clashes in central Yemen

Punishment for sexual assault in Iran: Execution of victim!

European clubs step up campaign against winter World Cup in Qatar

Turkey keeps 24 people under observation after yellow powder scare

Russia denies Kerry claims: No agreement to train Iraq army

Germany offers to help Armenia forge peace with Turkey

Libya wakes up from ‘Dubai dream’ to face Somalia-like ‘failed state’

South Yemen separatists vow to intensify secession protests

Relatives of Iraq massacre victims: Blackwater guards should be killed

Ghannouchi makes it clear to Tunisia: It’s either political Islam or Daesh!

Deadly clashes erupt after army raid in northern Lebanon

200 Iraqi Kurd fighters to travel through Turkey to Kobane

Coalition strikes in Syria eliminate more than 500 jihadists in one month

Ahead of elections, new clashes remind Tunisia of need to fight terror

Saudi Arabia jails mothers for preparing sons to wage jihad

Jury finds Blackwater guards guilty of 2007 'massacre' in Iraq

Iraq Kurds approve reinforcements for Kobane

Israel classifies car crash as ‘hit and run terror attack’

Turkish woman arrested for stepping on Koran

Erdogan criticises US for airdrops on Kobane

Iraq schools provide shelter but late to open for classes

Syria air force shoots down two of three 'IS warplanes'

Egypt court rules on ‘Nasr City terror cell’

Fire from Egypt wounds two Israeli soldiers near border

By hook or by crook, settlers notch up property gains in East Jerusalem

Turkey envoy meets leader of parallel government in Libya

Israel arrests seven Palestinian fishermen off northern Gaza

Khamenei to Abadi: Iraq can beat 'Islamic State' without foreign troops

Saudi special court rules in cases of riots and terrorism

Libya army scores small victory in Benghazi

Only in Libya: Government calls for civil disobedience

Kasserine reaps bitter harvest from Tunisia revolution: Poverty and terrorism

Iraq Kurds set to vote on deployment of Peshmerga forces to Syria

Islamic State ‘share in US weapons’ embarrasses Pentagon

Alderton: Morocco unrivalled business gateway to sub-Saharan Africa

Protests over IS turn Istanbul University into war zone

Turkey eyes stricter punishment against lawbreakers at protests

For Sudan President: Promises are something and re-election is something else

Iran returns Abadi to ‘house of obedience’

From traditional military to counterinsurgency force: Syria army grows more capable

South Sudan rivals accept 'responsibility' for civil war

British drones in Iraq also used for Syria surveillance

Turkey launches new wave of wire-tapping arrests