- - Tuesday, January 17, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

According to well-established sources in Egyptian Intelligence Services, a Palestinian Authority (PA) delegation met in Washington D.C. with officials from the outgoing Obama administration for secret talks. Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Adviser Susan Rice were present.

The report reveals U.S.-Palestinian coordination leading to the U.N. Security Council vote on Resolution 2334. It states that the sides “agreed to cooperate” in drafting a resolution on the settlements and that the U.S. representative in the Security Council was “empowered” to coordinate with the Palestinian U.N. representative on the resolution. The report added that Mr. Kerry and Ms. Rice had fulsomely praised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ policies and harshly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that he “aims to destroy the two-state solution.” Mr. Kerry vehemently denies there was any coordination in drafting the resolution.

The evidence, including the minutes of the meetings, suggests Mr. Kerry was probably lying when he issued his denials. Moreover, the Jan. 15 Paris Conference was delayed to accommodate Mr. Kerry’s schedule. Ms. Rice rejected an offer to consult with the incoming administration, arguing Republican President-elect Donald Trump would completely oppose the resolution. Ms. Rice stressed, as well, the danger posed by a Trump administration, which could take a position different from government’s since 1967. She advised Mr. Abbas to avoid any steps that would trigger a Trump administration response.

When Ms. Rice asked what the Palestinian response would be if the U.S. Embassy was moved to Jerusalem, Palestinian spokesman Saeb Erekat said, “We will directly and immediately join 16 international organizations in withdrawing the PLO’s recognition of Israel and hold it fully responsible for the PA’s collapse.” The Palestinian side demanded that the 1987 law designating the PLO a terrorist organization be rescinded. After all, on the basis of the U.N. proposition, Palestinians are merely trying to acquire the territory that is rightfully theirs.

These meetings were mutual admiration forums, since Mr. Kerry and Ms. Rice expressed esteem for Mr. Abbas’ courage and he, in turn, commended President Obama, Mr. Kerry and Ms. Rice. Mr. Abbas was praised as a man of peace and “a uniquely strategic and courageous leader in the Middle East.” At no point did Mr. Kerry note that Mr. Abbas’ four-year term as president ended eight years ago, nor did he point out the extent to which Mr. Abbas fomented terror attacks and referred to ethnic cleansing in the region. Such realistic talk would have damaged the newly formed American-Palestinian detente.

Finally the report stated, “John Kerry and Susan Rice asked that the meetings be classified ‘Top Secret’ and that what went on in them not be leaked, in light of the sensitivity of the transition between the two U.S. administrations.” The PA also requested that its financial aid remain intact and that assistance to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency be increased.

What these revelations indicate is that the U.S. abstention on the U.N. proposal to restore the 1967 borders, condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank and set the stage for a “two-state solution” was a smoke screen. The United States made its deal with Mr. Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, and was clearly on board when the U.N. vote was taken. An abstention was a cowardly gesture to create the illusion the Obama administration was still in the Israeli camp. But that, too, was a lie. Israeli interests were intentionally abandoned. In fact, as a result of the Security Council vote, Israel became a “pariah state,” a condition willfully organized by the Obama administration.

In an effort to justify the Obama administration’s position, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said Israel was constructing “tens of thousands” of new settlements in the West Bank — a point used to defend the Obama U.N. proposal. However, a subsequent investigation of the claim indicated it was not true. Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer called Mr. Rhodes an “expert at fiction.”

The total number of settlements and outposts is 228, and no new settlements have been built in recent years. In fact, the total territory occupied by Israelis in the West Bank is 2 percent. Mr. Rhodes attempted to rationalize his stance by saying he meant “settlers and individual units.” But even these figures in the aggregate do not add up to “tens of thousands.”

Mr. Rhodes, who has an advanced degree in fiction writing from New York University, has applied his background to the cause of Obama policymaking. However, fantasy and policy make for a very undesirable blend. No matter how hard Mr. Rhodes attempts to justify the Obama-Kerry position, a lie remains a lie, and all the verbal conjuring tricks will not make it true.

Herbert London is president of the London Center for Policy Research.

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