U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry achieved nothing in his latest foray into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly rejected the idea of Israeli troops monitoring the Jordan border of a future Palestinian state and even the proposed recognition of the Jewish state.
Kerry met with Abbas Thursday night in Ramallah. Abbas blew off Kerry’s proposals, even acknowledging on television on Thursday that he wasn’t interested. A Palestinian Authority (PA) source said Abbas gave Kerry a list of “Palestinian red lines” on which no negotiation was possible. These included the non-recognition of Israel. Kerry met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Friday before leaving Israel.
Kerry and U.S. President Barack Obama have been trying to get both sides to implement a “framework accord” for a peace deal, meaning there would be principles agreed to but no specific details. The Israelis and Palestinians agreed in August to the nine month timeline proposed by Kerry for such a deal, but the idea has foundered as Abbas rejects some of the baseline proposals.
U.S. officials on Kerry’s plane said the goals include security, setting the borders of a future Palestinian state, determining the status of Jerusalem, and settling the fate of Palestinian refugees, but a “framework” would still be enough as a “logical step” toward a final agreement.
PA officials revealed that the U.S. plan envisaged an Israeli presence at a Jordanian-Palestinian border for at least ten years, with troops next to it in the Jordan Valley.
Israeli officials have grave concerns that militants and weapons could be smuggled into a future Palestine if Israel gives up control of the West Bank-Jordan border. Abbas, on the other hand, has unsurprisingly stated that he is content with an international presence there — as long as Israeli forces are not a part of it.
An uncovered secret U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (USJCoS) Memorandum from 1967 acknowledged the danger of the U.S. plan for Israel to give back certain parts of the Jordan Valley. Dated June 29, 1967, the memo, “JSCM-373-67,” signed by then-Chairman of the USJCoS, U.S. Gen. Earle G. Wheeler, read that “From a strictly military point of view… the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff… (see as necessary Israeli) control of the prominent high ground running north-south” through Judea and Samaria.
An appendix to the memo read that the minimum Israel would need for defense would be a line along “Bardala-Tubas-Nablus-Bira-Jerusalem,” which “would give a portion of the (Judean and Samarian) foothills to Israel and avoid interdiction by artillery in the Israeli villages in the lowlands.”
That was in 1967, before the Palestinians, Hamas, and Hezbollah possessed shoulder-fired anti-air missiles, laser designators, radar and radio jammers, and Katyushas.