US Secretary of State John Kerry put a package of proposals for reviving the moribund Israel-Palestinian peace process before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and peace negotiator Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and then returned to Amman Monday, May 27.
He keeps the package's contents firmly under his hat. However, according to some of the details revealed here for the first time by debkafile’s sources, Kerry’s top-secret plan places on Israel the onus of major concessions including strategic and national assets, for the sake of buying the Palestinian leader’s consent to sit down and talk. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is not required to pay anything real in return – although it was who stalled the peace negotiations in the first place.
As the first of these concessions, Kerry wants Israel to permit the Palestinians to build in Jericho for their prospective state an international airport for direct civilian flights to and from America and Europe. Those flights would cross Israeli air space and be coordinated with Israeli flight control authorities.
Our exclusive sources further disclose that, while Palestinian authorities would be in charge of security at the future Jericho airport, Israel would maintain control of passengers and freight traffic by means of computer and surveillance camera networks.
In 2006, a similar remote system was installed at the Gaza Strip’s Rafah border post under European controllers after Israel’s withdrawal from the territory. It soon broke down when the foreign controllers were scared away by Palestinian threats.
Kerry envisages the transformation of the entire Jericho region north of the Dead Sea and near the Jordanian border into a busy hub for galvanizing the economy of the future Palestinian state. He wants Israel to hand over to the Palestinians the Kalia region on the northern shore of the Dead Sea. Kibbutz Kalia, albeit part of sovereign Israel from its inception in 1948, is nonetheless one of the assets Kerry wants Israel to cede to the Palestinians.
The fate of the veteran Israeli kibbutz is left up in the air.
Israeli concessions would not end at the northern Dead Sea coast, according to the secret Kerry plan; it would be just the first in a series of land and sovereignty handovers granted the Palestinians in trilateral negotiations among Israel, the Palestinians and the United States.
The Palestinians would also be awarded by the process a three-year economic reconstruction program for boosting their Gross National Product by 50 percent and slashing unemployment from 21 to 8 percent.
The Middle East Quartet’s Special Envoy Tony Blair will head the program, Secretary Kerry reported to the world economic forum meeting in Jordan Sunday, May 26. His goal is to raise $4 billion for investing in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
“This is the biggest, boldest and most ambitious program ever granted the Palestinians since Oslo, 20 years ago,” Kerry told the forum.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has not divulged his views on the Kerry proposals – merely for winning Palestinian consent to talk peace. Since the payment of sovereign Israeli territory would be no more than the down- payment for pulling the Palestinians to the table, how many more high-value security and national assets will Israel will be required to part with along the road toward meeting the Palestinians’ ever-rising price tag?
Abu Mazen has gone on record as rejecting any economic proposals unaccompanied by political concessions. However, Kerry is still hard at his shuttle diplomacy and his talks with the Palestinian leader continue.