Channel 10: Obama refused to confront Netanyahu; Kerry proposal emptied of content

Israeli media reports that Kerry’s peace framework is being watered down. The White House pushes back.

In its Sunday evening news broadcast, Israel’s Channel 10 reported on one reason for the diminishing ambitiousness of an American final-status framework proposal, which Washington expects to present to Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the coming weeks.

According to senior reported Raviv Druker, President Obama decided not to let Kerry confront Jerusalem, thus forcing his secretary of state to present a vague paper that both parties can live with, and to even allow them to submit their reservations to the American proposal.

“The [Kerry] agreement was almost completely emptied of content,” Druker reported.

Right now, it seems that the goal of the American proposal will be only to allow negotiations to continue. Since Israel will not be required to make any concessions and the paper won’t include clear reference to the status of East Jerusalem as the future Palestinian capital, Druker estimates that, “a political drama in Israel will be avoided.” In other words, the settlers will be able to stay in Netanyahu’s government even after it endorses the American proposal.

This reports seems in line with the administration’s policy over the Palestinian issue since Obama’s 2010 confrontation with Netanyahu. I believe that the president estimates there isn’t much to be gained politically from the peace process, while there is a lot to be lost in another battle with Jerusalem and its supporters on Capitol Hill. So he is placing his political chips elsewhere (Iran, for example).

UPDATE: The White House is pushing back against the Channel 10 story. “Any notion that Secretary Kerry failed to obtain the President’s backing for his efforts is totally false,” White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said.

The diplomatic process has rescued Netanyahu from a touchy political bind – practically saving his coalition by allowing Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid to stay in the government. Yet as I wrote yesterday, without a confrontation with Jerusalem and an ensuing political crisis in Israel, the current trends on the ground – occupation and colonization – will likely continue. What remains to be seen is how long will the Palestinians play along, and whether they’ll be blamed yet again “for missing an opportunity.”

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