MIDDLE EASTPOLITICS

Netanyahu and Kerry about Middle East Peace Process

Jerusalem-IsraelPrime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu held a press conference in Davos, where the annual World Economic Forum convenes.

In his remarks to the press, Netanyahu firmly stated that he did not intend on uprooting any Israeli citizen from the Jordan Valley. The statement was in response to a question about the commitment of the government of Israel to the Jordan Valley. “I do not intend to evacuate any settlements or uproot a single Israeli,” the Prime Minister said, reports Haaretz.

The press conference was held after the Israeli leader held talks with the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. During the talks, Netanyahu and Kerry discussed peace negotiations with the Palestinians. In the words of Netanyahu, the State Secretary did not try to bring sides to sign a framework agreement but “put ideas for a path toward progress in the negotiations.”

Answering questions, the Israeli PM also addressed the issue of a potential economic boycitt on Israel due to continuing settlement construction. He stated that, in fact, there was a great interest from international companies looking to invest in Israel’s economy.

Kerry, in turn, dedicated a big part of his speech at Davos to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He stated that if the peace talks failed, both sides would be harmed. “If talks fail, for Israel, the demographic dynamic will make it impossible to preserve its future as a democratic Jewish state… Today’s status quo cannot last forever,” Haaretz reports quoting John Kerry. The State Secretary underlined that the Palestinians were risking their last chance for an independent state.

The head of the State Department laid out several principles for solving the core issues, as seen by the United States, among them: an independent state for the Palestinians (the exact territory not defined); security arrangements for Israel ; a full, phased and final withdrawal of the Israeli army from Palestinian territories; a just and agreed solution to the Palestinian refugee problem; an end to the conflict and all claims; and mutual recognition of the nation-state of the Palestinian people and the nation-state of the Jewish people.

Secretary Kerry stated that he was working with Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on a framework for negotiations that would include principles for the core issues. 

John Kerry reportedly refuted the allegations that the administration was disengaging from Middle East. Obama administration has been accused for lacking a coherent strategy to handle the rapidly changing dynamics in the Middle East, especially ever since the Arab Spring came about. For instance, the administration is blamed for mishandling the ongoing conflict in Syria, which has gotten worse.

Extremist groups have taken an upper hand in the fighting on the side of the opposition forces which raises doubts about what kind of government would come to replace Bashar al-Assad, if ever; Egypt has been rocked by violence for the last three years and is fighting to restore democratic rule after a coup in 2011; al-Qaida-linked militants have made major gains in parts of Iraq and an agreement to keep a residual force in Afghanistan after international troops will leave the country at the end of the year is stalled.

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