On his trip to Washington this week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected US Secretary of State John Kerry’s framework document for continued peace talks with Israel, and issued “three no’s” on core issues, leaving the negotiations heading for an explosive collapse, an Israeli TV report said Friday.
Abbas “went to the White House and said ‘no’ to Obama,” Channel 2 news reported, quoting unnamed American and Israeli sources.
Specifically, the report said, Abbas rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that he recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He also refused to abandon the Palestinian demand for a “right of return” for millions of Palestinians and their descendants — a demand that, if implemented, would drastically alter Israel’s demographic balance and which no conceivable Israeli government would accept. And finally, he refused to commit to an “end of conflict,” under which a peace deal would represent the termination of any further Palestinian demands of Israel.
Israel has indicated that it may not release a fourth and final group of Palestinian prisoners at the end of this month, as agreed to when the current talks began last July, if Abbas does not first agree to extend the talks beyond their scheduled cessation next month. Since Abbas rejected the Kerry framework for extending the talks, the TV report said, the negotiations were now heading for an “explosion.”
Think of this as a successful plan … redeployed. After the Euromaidan protests overthrew the Viktor Yanukovich government, Crimea suddenly filled up with military forces without insignias that began seizing buildings, roads, and eventually the entire peninsula. The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake reports that US intel has seen Russian special forces and mercenaries infiltrating eastern Ukraine as well as Crimea, and expect more trouble for Kyiv soon:
Russia’s activities in Crimea have been widely described in the west as an invasion. But while some Russian military forces did cross into Ukrainian territory, the Moscow government still claims that all of its military forces in Crimea are abiding by the terms of its agreement with Ukraine.
This, U.S. officials believe, is because Russia is invading Ukraine with its Spetsnaz — the special operations units and battalions attached to both the military and the country’s intelligence agencies.
U.S. intelligence officials now say Russia’s Spetsnaz are expanding into eastern and southern Ukraine, as well. The intelligence report from February assessed that Russian provocateurs would look to instigate low-level street brawls or “skirmishes” in eastern and southern Ukraine. The report also predicted that Russia’s shadow warriors would seek to pay off Ukrainians to attend pro-Russian rallies and in general fan the flames of separatism. And since then, eyewitnesses say, that’s exactly what’s happened.
One U.S. official said the U.S. military intelligence analysts suspect elements of the 45th Spetsnaz regiment of Russia’s military intelligence service known as the GRU were conducting the provocations in Ukraine.
“This is the use of deniable special operators under GRU control to create provocations and really these are quasi-deniable operations,” added John Schindler, a retired NSA counter-intelligence officer and specialist in Russian affairs who now teaches at the U.S. Naval War College.
The intel community warned in late February of an infiltration strategy being deployed, even if they did send mixed signals on their analysis of Russian intent. That doesn’t mean, though, that Russia will rely only on those forces. Their force build-up on the border is “large, and getting larger,” CBS News reported last night after troop movements within Russia looked as though it would double those forces. Russia claims these are only “exercises,” but gave “no firm timetable” on the exercise’s conclusion (via Freedom’s Lighthouse):
These two developments go hand in hand with each other. The purpose of infiltration and sabotage is to provoke a reaction from the Kyiv government in the heavily ethnic-Russian regions, or failing that, to create as much anarchy and chaos as possible. Russian then would claim the need to restore order and protect the Russian-speaking communities in the east, the same pretext for their intervention and seizure of Crimea. It would not be long before the Donetsk and Kharkiv regions would then declare enough autonomy to hold their own plebescites for independence and absorption into the Russian federation.