Nicola Nasser: US State Department Tactics, Kerry Uses Arabs to Bully Palestinians!

A new tactic by US Secretary of State John Kerry is causing a split within the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) ranks regarding further talks with Israel. Kerry is apparently using the Arab Leagues Follow-Up Committee on the Arab Peace Initiative (FCAPI) to bully the Palestinians into accepting new ground rules for the talks to which they had objected in the past. In his sixth tour of the region as secretary of state, Kerry did something unusual. Instead of visiting Israel, as he always does, he left it out of his itinerary, deciding instead to hold most of visiting Israel, as he always does, he left it out of his itinerary, deciding instead to hold most of the talks in the Jordanian capital Amman. While there, he conferred with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as well as members of the FCAPI. As the talks progressed, it became clear that Kerry was no longer focussing on Israel, the country that has torpedoed all previous attempts at peace, but on the PLO. His aim is to get the latter to offer more concessions than they have accepted in the past. In order to do this, Kerry wanted to get the FCAPI to accept these concessions on behalf of the Palestinians, a new tactic that may not be working but that so far has succeeded in causing divisions and widespread consternation in Palestinian circles. The tactic is not totally new, for it resonates with the manner in which US diplomats have used the Arab League to justify foreign intervention for the sake of regime change in countries such as Iraq and Libya in the past. Speaking after a meeting with Kerry in Amman, FCAPI diplomats voiced their great support for Kerry's efforts to revive the talks. Their remarks were seen as a victory for Kerry, said the Associated Press. It was a success for his diplomacy, added The New York Times. Kerry, for his part, announced that the gap was narrowing between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and that all that was needed now was to iron out a few kinks. For the Palestinians, ironing out these kinks is going to be quite a job, however. PLO chief negotiator Saeb Ereikat is said to have had a stormy meeting with the PLO leadership concerning Kerry's proposals. The PLO, its back to the wall, is now forming a working committee to decide what to do about the talks. All of this is unprecedented. In the past, the FCAPI used to take its cue from the Palestinians. When the Palestinians were faced with demands for concessions they were reluctant to give, they politely said they needed to consult with the FCAPI, which was a courteous way of turning down unacceptable proposals. Now the FCAPI is getting them into trouble by agreeing to concessions before the Palestinians even have time to discuss them at length. In the absence of FCAPI support for the PLO negotiators, the latter had no option but to play along with Kerry's proposals.

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