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A bad U.S. deal
US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers the keynote address at the 10th Anniversary Saban Forum, Power Shifts: US-Israel Relations in a Dynamic Middle East, in Washington on December 7, 2013.  (AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM)
US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers the keynote address at the 10th Anniversary Saban Forum, Power Shifts: US-Israel Relations in a Dynamic Middle East, in Washington on December 7, 2013. (AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM)
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“He is treating our issues with a high degree of indifference,” a senior Palestinian official said Monday about U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s current Middle East security proposals. The Palestinians were very right to reject the offer, as it only benefits Israel, in a a move by the U.S. to placate Tel Aviv over Iran fears.

The American promise of significant development in the peace talks by the end of the year was always an ambitious one. But that progress will never be achieved as long as the U.S. continues to prioritize a desire to soothe the Israeli lobby in Washington over securing justice and equality for the Palestinian people.

Kerry, whose frequent visits to the region originally seemed to indicate he had something new up his sleeve for the peace process, has revealed himself to be as little committed to the Palestinian cause as all his predecessors. Positing himself as an honest broker for the long-stalled talks, Kerry is neither honest nor a broker, as his security proposals announced last Thursday indicate. He is not some objective middleman, but merely a representative of an administration that is so afraid of pushing Israel away that it is prepared, once again, to neglect any genuine pursuit of freedom for the Palestinian people.

It is not without coincidence that this latest proposal, which would see Israel allowed to continue expansion in the Jordan Valley, allegedly to assuage its security concerns, comes soon after the Geneva deal with Iran that was welcomed internationally but derided by Israel as a dangerous move. Offering up Palestine to placate Israel over regional issues is not new, and this act of appeasement is the latest attempt by world powers to use the Palestinians. But that does not make it any less galling.

Even without the Iran agreement, the timing of Kerry’s announcement is frankly offensive. At such a volatile time for the Middle East, what with the ongoing war in Syria, the conflict’s knock-on tensions in Turkey, the Levant and the Gulf, and the continued Arab Spring fallout in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, Arab leaders do not have time to dedicate to the Palestinian cause, and the Americans realize this.

The Palestinians are therefore completely within their rights to reject this noxious plan, which does nothing to further their cause but is only concerned with the interests of the Israelis. The Palestinian situation could not get much worse now, so why accept a “security plan” that gives the advantage to Israel? The wisest thing to do now would be to continue lobbying around the world and find partners in those states that are beginning, finally, to see Israel for the oppressive state it is. The U.S., while purporting to stand for ethics and justice, seems to have forgotten the meanings of the words.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 10, 2013, on page 7.
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