In the face of stiff Palestinian opposition, US Secretary of State John Kerry has stepped back from the American security plan for Israeli troops to secure the Jordan Valley border for an agreed period, in favor of deploying US forces, debkafile’s exclusive Washington sources report. He also gave in to the Palestinians on two additional security safeguards: one, for corridors through the West Bank through which Israeli forces would move back and forth from the Jordan Valley; and, two, for Israel monitors to be posted at Palestinian-Jordanian border crossings as a counter-terror safeguard.
Instead, Kerry has come up with the notion of “remote Israeli monitoring” of the border posts by means of electronic gadgets.
The Secretary of State has therefore stripped the US framework for a peace accord of three vital elements for safeguarding Israeli security in a Palestinian state, before submitting it formally to the Israelis and Palestinians in the second half of January.
American and Israeli security experts agree that the revised Kerry security proposals would in practice enlist US soldiers out for the first time to defend Israel’s eastern border, a task for which the IDF is perfectly capable, only to gratify the Palestinian demand to remove any Israeli military presence from its potential territory.
The US would also find itself responsible for monitoring Israel’s border crossings to the new Palestinian state as well Palestinian-Jordanian border stations.
The Secretary appears to be in tune too with the Palestinian demand for the “safe passage” to connect the Gaza Strip to the West Bank to be realized in the form of an express train. This rail link would require Israel to sacrifice a slice of the Negev in the south and turn it over to Palestinian sovereignty, with no stops on the way for Israel security officers to inspect the traffic and freight being ferried between the two Palestinian entities.
Washington has informed Israel and the Palestinian Authority that it has opted for a railroad rather than a tunnel link.
The Palestinians now demand that the train run all the way to Ramallah instead of terminating further south at Hebron. This would take it through Gush Etzion and so create a precedent for one of the Israeli settlement blocks to be bisected by a transport route under Palestinian control.
Our Jerusalem sources report that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has not so far rejected any of these “revisions” of the US security plan; neither has he accepted them.
With so much up in the air, he opted for restraint Tuesday, Dec. 24, in responding to the murder of Saleh Abu Tayel by a Palestinian sniper from Gaza. The IDF strikes in Gaza a few hours later, which were presented as an impressive show of air, armored and infantry might, were in fact low key and minimal. Hamas and Jihad Islami forces were unharmed, and the attack was not attributed to any Palestinian organization – and so none were singled out for punishment.
This low-key, evasive response is typical of the Netanyahu government’s attitude toward the surge of terrorism instigated by the Palestinians from the onset of US-sponsored peace talks in July.
Official Israeli spokesmen are fighting all the evidence to prove that the escalating tide of shooting, stabbing, bombing, and rock-throwing are isolated incidents and not orchestrated.
In the week in which a bomb exploded on a bus near Tel Aviv, a policeman was stabbed, and a civilian shot dead, the talk is of “atmospheric attacks.” The message from Jerusalem is that so long as the Palestinians stay on the negotiating track, Israel will allow them to work up an atmosphere of violence without incurring direct Israeli military action on a scale capable of overturning the peace track.
debkafile’s counterterrorism sources warn that letting Palestinian terrorism fly unfettered is a recipe for increased violence, which will end up defeating the whole object of the peace talks – as has happened so many times before.