Dec 15 2013

US, EU pressure Palestinians to accept security plan

Published by at 2:39 pm under Articles,Palestinian politics



By Daoud Kuttab

It might be a coincidence or hype from the Palestinian leadership. But a look at the narrative being weaved by the Palestinian leadership and one has no alternative but to think that the Americans and Europeans have joined the Israelis in trying to extract concessions from the Palestinians.

The latest source of this is the US security plan that includes a permanent Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley for 10 years. Al-Ayyam daily, which is close to the Palestinian leadership, has said that the plan calls for Israeli soldiers to remain in the Jordan Valley for 10 years. Multiple media reports talked about a visible Israeli security presence in select locations along the Jordan River, with an invisible Israeli presence on the bridge connecting the east and west bank near the city of Jericho.

The latter sounds like the exact same situation that existed prior to the eruption of the intifada in October 2000. Shortly after clashes between Israeli and Palestinian police in different locations, the “invisible” Israelis kicked out the “visible” Palestinian police. The road map had called for Israel to allow the situation to be returned to the pre-October 2000 period, but Israel has refused until this very day the US-designed security plan that would have Palestinian police back on the King Hussein (Allenby) Bridge.

Palestinian officials have stated that the United States is “allowing” Israel not to make the third stage of prisoner release due to take place in the next month because of the Palestinian refusal to accept Gen. John Allen’s plan. The Palestinians argue the plan is not American, but a carbon copy of what Israeli security officials want. They say that the Americans have become mailmen for Israel delivering a plan that has the name of the United States on it but is nothing more than a cut-and-paste plan that Israel is comfortable with.

The European Union has been brought into the discussion as a result of its calls on the Palestinian government to stop paying salaries to people who are not working. The European action, which is part of the implementation of an audit request, is seen as targeting civil servants in Gaza who were asked to stay home rather than work for the Hamas-supported government. Palestinians believe that this call is not an innocent request, but that the Europeans are acting on behalf of the United States and ultimately Israel. Despite the Palestinian government’s spin, there does not seem to be any political connection to the timing. Audit reports usually are worked on months before they are produced.

Israel is also squeezing the Palestinians. In the early morning of Dec. 11, more than 100 Israeli soldiers entered Aida refugee camp, which lies near an Israeli checkpoint. According to a Palestine News Agency report, the Israelis entered the refugee camp at 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday, searching house after house. The Israeli infiltration was carried out without any apparent permission or coordination with the Palestinian security, and included giving every household a leaflet warning against throwing stones or Molotov cocktails against Jewish settlers. No settler road runs anywhere near Aida refugee camp.

These developments combined leave the impression that the United States is trying to pressure the Palestinian government to accept “its” security plan for the Jordan River. Sources within the headquarters of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) told Al-Monitor that the Americans have expressed their intent for a public ceremony to celebrate the agreement to the plan.

The sources added that Abbas is said to be very unhappy with the way the United States has turned against the Palestinians. The aides told Al-Monitor that Abbas would sign any plan immediately that would include replacing Israeli troops with multinational soldiers wherever Israeli soldiers are currently placed throughout the occupied territories. Previously, Abbas rejected any sort of interim plan. The Palestinian leadership feels that it is paying the price of a US attempt to repair its ties with Israel after the rift over Iran.

It is said that timing is a powerful diplomatic tool. If the above actions by the United States and Europe are in fact connected to the peace talks, it will represent the first time in these particular talks that they have taken a position that leans toward one side, while claiming to be an honest broker.

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