Kerry’s Slander of ‘Illegitimate’ Israeli Settlements

ker-450x260By P. David Hornik:

The Israeli-Palestinian “peace talks” have reportedly hit a rough patch. The talks on Tuesday were said to have “ended in a row, with raised voices and the exchange of verbal insults.”

It started last week when Israel released the second batch of Palestinian security prisoners, all of whom were serving time for murder or attempted murder. They were welcomed as heroes in Ramallah. Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas shook each freed prisoner’s hand, and they were awarded generous cash grants on top of the stipends they already receive.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to allay outrage particularly on the more right-leaning side of his coalition, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced the building of 3500 housing units for Israelis—all of them either in East Jerusalem or West Bank (Judea and Samaria) settlement blocs. Several Israeli officials claimed the Palestinian side had already consented to such construction as a quid pro quo for the prisoner releases.

Tuesday’s dustup in the talks was said to have erupted over that issue. The Palestinian negotiators claimed their side had never agreed to such a quid pro quo and slammed the construction itself. Many reports said the talks on the whole were on the verge of collapse.

A few hours later, on Tuesday afternoon, U.S. secretary of state John Kerry arrived in Israel in an effort to salvage the situation.

He lost no time taking the Palestinian side.

For one thing, he claimed that “at no time” had the Palestinians consented to any Israeli building beyond the 1949 armistice lines—even, it was implied, as a concession in return for Israel’s wholesale freeing of terrorists.

Kerry also stated, immediately after discussions with Abbas: “Let me emphasize at this point the position of the United States of America on the settlements is that we consider them…to be illegitimate.”

Considering that about half a million Israelis now live in Jerusalem neighborhoods that are dubbed “settlements” and in West Bank communities, which include full-fledged towns like Modi’in Illit (pop. 59,000), Beitar Illit (pop. 46,000), Maale Adumim (pop. 39,000), Ariel (pop. 18,000) and others, and considering that in some of these areas Israelis are subjected to frequent, potentially lethal rock- and firebomb-throwing attacks, along with actual lethal and near-lethal shooting, beating, and stabbing attacks in recent months (hereherehere, and here), the charge that all Israeli Jewish residence in these places is “illegitimate” is serious indeed and seemingly incendiary and dangerous.

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