CMEP Bulletin: Security Arrangements Impeding Talks
United States Secretary of State John Kerry was back in the region this week to talk to Israeli and Palestinian leaders. This time, much of the focus was placed on security arrangements. U.S. General John Allen briefed the parties on the “perception of the U.S.” regarding security arrangements in a two-state solution.
General John Allen is the former commander of the NATO forces in Afghanistan tasked with coming up with a solution to Israel’s security concerns in the Jordan Valley and across the Jordan River. Geoffery Aronson writes that this task is noteworthy because “The United States has traditionally bowed to Israel’s own expansive assessments on this issue, so the very fact that US policymakers are instructing their own generals and colonels to think critically about defining and addressing Israel’s security needs is a topic of concern to many Israeli officials and politicians, who will not easily surrender their absolute control of both the negotiating agenda or its practical elements.”
The elements of General Allen’s findings are unknown. Secretary Kerry, the only official authorized to speak on the status of the negotiations only told reporters that ideas were presented because General Allen had substantial things to present “that could help both the Palestinians and the Israelis to make judgments about some of the choices that are important to arriving at an agreement.”
Americans for Peace Now lauded the involvement of General Allen saying his plan “ is an important development that signals the Obama administration’s willingness to play an active role in advancing the negotiations…”
The fertile Jordan Valley issue is one of the many sticking points in the negotiations. According to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea area makes up 28.8 percent of the West Bank. An estimated 80,000 Palestinians live in the area and 9,400 Israeli settlers reside in the 37 settlements.