TEL AVIV – The Israeli government may have been elated Secretary of State John Kerry’s bid to create a Palestinian state recently saw the U.S. drop several demands of the Jewish state, as WND reported yesterday.
However, the change of heart might have been short lived. Palestinian Authority diplomatic sources directly involved in the talks told WND yesterday that Kerry is now having second thoughts about a key shift in his plans and he may switch back to the Palestinian position.
Until recent weeks, Kerry has been steadfast in the U.S. refusal to accept anything less than a final status agreement on the main issues, repeatedly rejecting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request for an interim, multi-staged deal.
Yesterday, WND quoted informed Israeli and Palestinian diplomatic sources saying the U.S. had acquiesced to Netanyahu’s concept of an interim agreement of stages over a period of 10 years.
Now PA sources say that Kerry told PA President Mahmoud Abbas the U.S. will consider once again demanding a final deal on all issues – Jerusalem, so-called refugees, the West Bank, Jordan Valley and other areas.
The sources said Kerry will discuss the possibility of a final status deal in his upcoming visit.
The flip-flop came after Abbas threatened to lobby Europe and the Arab League to oppose the latest U.S. position on an interim agreement, the sources said.
Regardless of whether there is an interim or final status deal, some major U.S. demands remain in place. One of those demands is for Israel to relinquish its civilian neighborhoods in the strategic Jordan Valley.
The Jordan Valley cuts through the heart of Israel. It runs from the Tiberias River in the north to the Dead Sea in the center to the city of Aqaba at the south of the country, stretching through the biblical Arabah desert.
Wednesday, Israel’s Army Radio reported Kerry drafted a plan that would see all of Israel’s Jordan Valley civilian settlements dismantled. That detail was first exclusively reported by WND this past October.
Meanwhile, on Jerusalem, Kerry is asking for the international community to administer the holy sites in the eastern section of the city, while details are still being discussed about whether Palestinians will have some symbolic presence in the area.
WND first reported earlier this month on Kerry’s plan calling for an international administrative mandate to control holy sites in eastern Jerusalem.
The exact composition of the international mandate is up for discussion, but Kerry’s plan recommended a coalition that includes the Vatican, together with a group of Muslim countries such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
The international arrangement is being proposed as a temporary solution for about two to three years while security arrangements in Jerusalem between Israelis and Palestinians are finalized, said Israeli and Palestinian diplomatic sources.