CMEP Bulletin: Looming Framework Forces Difficult Conversations
Is Israel reaching a tipping point?
In four days of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators last week, Secretary Kerry discussed the content of a framework that he will propose “within weeks.” Before leaving Israel he said, “The path is becoming clearer…And it is becoming much more apparent to everybody what the remaining tough choices are.” The serious prospect of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu making these “tough choices” is concerning to the Israeli right wing and peace process spoilers are becoming more vocal.
Haaretz writer Barak Ravid reports that the framework will be substantial. He writes, “In the coming weeks, Obama will become personally involved in Kerry’s effort. He will have to approve the framework agreement before Kerry can officially present it, and he won’t accept a weak, superficial document. Obama wants a meaty, substantive proposal.”
Over the past five months, right wing members of Netanyahu’s governing coalition have been largely mum about the peace process, convinced that Secretary Kerry’s efforts were not serious and placated by continued settlement building. There was a sense that if they weathered the storm, Kerry’s energies would wane and the status quo could continue.
Secretary Kerry has proved indefatigable and with his framework agreement looming, he now has everyone’s attention. Israeli columnist Shalom Yerushalami wrote, “Since the beginning of this week, the sense here has been that something is happening. Something has shifted, mainly beneath the surface.” The Economist notes the alarm of the rejectionists and concludes, “[Kerry] may be getting somewhere, after all.”
One dividing element is the 1967 lines. Reports indicate that the framework will include Israel’s acceptance that any final agreement with the Palestinians will be based on the 1967 lines with land swaps to ensure Israel can keep its major settlement blocks.
This is where Trade Minister Naftali Bennett draws the line. He said in speech Monday, “No more word games: the 1967 lines mean dividing Jerusalem and giving up the Western Wall, the Temple Mount and the Old City,” Bennett said. “In what way will our history remember a leader that gives up Jerusalem? We won’t sit in such a government.”