Give the Palestinians a break, Kerry, and stay home

The U.S. secretary of state is pressuring the Palestinians to give up the one lever of power they have against the occupation.  

My fear is that Kerry will make good on his promise this week to return soon to Jerusalem and Ramallah, and that he will cajole Abbas into agreeing to talk “peace” with Netanyahu, on pain of being blamed for wasting the American secretary of state’s time and making him look foolish and impotent. Such an agreement would be a terrible setback for the Palestinians because not only wouldn’t they get anywhere with Netanyahu, but they would be obliged, as a condition of renewing the talks with Israel, to throw away the one lever of power they have against the occupation: the UN.

The Palestinian Authority’s threat to go back to the UN when the General Assembly begins its session in September, and to escalate the pressure against the occupation, above all by taking Israel to The Hague, scares this country’s leaders. By contrast, peace negotiations under the auspices of the now-tamed Obama administration are something Netanyahu has always wanted, even if it would cause him some difficulties with the raving fascists in his party and government. Such peace talks with Abbas would brake the momentum in Europe and other liberal precincts of the West to boycott Israel, whereas continued stalemate would keep that momentum going, and a Palestinian move at the UN in September, above all at The Hague, would crank it up higher.

So Kerry’s “peace mission,” despite his hollow good intentions, is a boon to the occupation and a misery to the cause of Palestinian independence – which is why I hope Abbas will stand tough against him. If Netanyahu was offering a Palestinian state on all of the occupied territories with land swaps, he would be worth talking to. But when he’s offering an Israeli-dominated, powerless Palestinian municipality in some undefined part of the territories, without East Jerusalem and with the IDF in the Jordan Valley, then negotiating with him is what Israeli right-wingers would, if the situation were turned around, call appeasement.