[Note the bolded parts below]
The pundits may be skeptical of the new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that got underway this week, but officials involved in the negotiations are mostly sounding upbeat and optimistic. Even chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, though uncharacteristically laconic, sounded vaguely hopeful.
The circumstances and the players may have changed, but the final-status issues remain the same: borders, Jerusalem, refugees, security and settlements. So far, however, Israelis and Palestinians have publicly agreed on only four things: that there will be talks for nine months, that all final-status issues will be raised, that the Palestinians are set to receive a $4 billion economic incentive, and that Israel will release 104 long-term prisoners during the course of the negotiations.
According to Kerry, “all of the final-status issues, all of the core issues, and all other issues are all on the table for negotiation.” That means that, whether the talks lead to an agreement or not, at the very least the two sides will be forced to lay their cards on the table.
On the Israeli side, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will have to come out of his shell and present a map showing how he envisions the contours of a future state of Palestine. So far, Netanyahu has shied away from revealing his take on the question of borders, but now that might no longer be possible. He will likely be roasted at home, but if he wants to be taken seriously in Washington, his border proposal will have to be based, more or less, on the 1967 lines, with land swaps to allow Israel to annex the major settlement blocs.
Netanyahu will also have to talk about the division of Jerusalem, a notion he has fought throughout his political career. It is unclear whether he will budge on these issues, but he be forced to negotiate. In other words, the integrity of Jerusalem, “Israel’s eternal, undivided capital,” is no longer non-negotiable.
On security, the three sides have merely agreed to divulge that US Gen. John Allen “is on the ground working to ensure Israel’s security needs will be met,” Kerry said. Allen’s job is to “understand the requirements of security arrangements for a two-state solution,” a senior American official said Wednesday in Tel Aviv. Allen has been working with his counterparts in the Israel Defense Forces “and will speak to the Palestinian side as well,” the official said.
And what did Netanyahu demand in return for freeing the Palestinian terrorists? Permission to build in the settlements? Perhaps a green light for a strike on Iran?
This leads directly into the next two articles (recall, the 'peace-keeping' forces and any such arrangements could be considered as a way to 'confirm' whatever covenant is reached):
The Israeli-Palestinian negotiations may have only just begun, but US Gen. John Allen is already on the ground working on security arrangements that might be part of a future agreement, a senior US official said Wednesday.
Allen was appointed by US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in May to serve as the US special envoy on security issues, and to develop a security plan for a final Israeli-Palestinian agreement.
Meanwhile, Martin Indyk, the US special envoy to the negotiations, is expected to arrive in the region within the next two weeks to begin working on the talks, which are expected to begin in the second week of August, after Ramadan.
Although the US has not clearly defined the parameters of the talks, a senior State Department official said “unequivocally” that the US position was the one US President Barack Obama laid out in a May 2011 speech that infuriated Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. In that speech, Obama called for a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines, with mutual agreed swaps, and a lasting peace that would involve two states: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people.
To read the Washington newspapers this week, which are representative, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are meeting under the auspices of the American government to make Palestine. The Palestinians and Secretary of State John Kerry allowed it to be known that the Israelis were asked/pushed/threatened to provide a prisoner release, a freeze, and a commitment to begin negotiations on the 1949 Armistice Line (the so-called 1967 border).
The Palestinians were asked to provide... well, nothing, actually because that's not the issue.
The "heart of the matter" is that Israel can't give enough to make the Palestinians happy. What are the Palestinians offering to make Israel happy? Where is the Palestinian "concession" to Israel's legitimacy, security and peace? What if the Palestinian offer falls "far short of the minimum requirements" that the Government of Israel will insist upon? It doesn't appear to have crossed his mind.
Former diplomat and envoy to many, many "peace talks," Aaron David Miller, wrote recently about clues to watch for during the talks and favors written texts, outlines and maps. "Maps, perhaps more than any other single element... are a critical sign of seriousness or lack of seriousness. If we're talking borders, then maps, particularly those presented by Israel, will become an early test of whether this is serious."
He is almost right.
Maps presented by Israel, however, are already a fairly well known quantity. They will look more or less, give or take, like the outline of the West Bank (and Gaza under some future circumstance) with the "major settlement blocs" ending up inside Israel. The better question -- and the better test of seriousness -- is whether the Palestinians come with a map and where they place the sovereign State of Israel on that map.
Without sharper focus on Israel's rights and requirements as well as Palestinian interests and goals the process deserves to fail.
The Israeli Air Force is likely to strike Syria in the near future, according to a report released by The New York Times on Wednesday night.
After a recent strike on a Syrian arm's cache failed to wipe out the entirety of a Russian-made anti ship missile arsenal, US intelligence analysts have concluded that Israel will want to finish the job with a future attack, according to unnamed American officials.
According to foreign reports, Israel carried out an early morning air strike on a Syrian weapons cache in the port city of Latakia on July 5. The attack allegedly targeted Russian-made Yakhont anti-ship missiles that could pose a threat to Israel.
The New York Times reported on Wednesday that, while the IAF airstrike destroyed the warehouse containing the Russian-made anti-ship missiles, American intel analysts believe that some of the missiles were moved prior to the Israeli attack.
According to the report, the continued flow of weapons from Russia to the Syrian regime could prompt further IAF strikes, given Israel's fear of such weaponry being transferred to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Russia has recently sent the regime pf Bashar Assad SA-26 anti-aircraft missiles and two MI-24 Hind helicopters, according to the Times.
American intelligence analysts have concluded that a recent alleged Israeli airstrike on a warehouse in Syria did not succeed in destroying all of the Russian-made anti-shipmissiles that were its target, the Times reported Wednesday.
Americanwho spoke to the on the matter predicted that further Israeli strikes are likely since some of the missiles hadn’t been destroyed.
American intelligence analysts told the Times that while the warehouse was destroyed, at least some of the Yakhont missiles had been removed from their launchers and moved from the warehouse before the attack.
The officials who described the new assessment declined to be identified because they were discussing classified information.
Israeli officials have said that they do not intend to enter the civil war in Syria, but they have said they are prepared to prevent sophisticated weapons from falling into the hands of Lebanese terror group Hizbullah, which has joined the war to support President Bashar Al-Assad.
American and Israeli naval officials consider the missiles to be a serious threat to their ships.