U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to arrive in Israel again next Monday, on his twelfth visit to the region, but not all Israeli political leaders are happy to see him return.
In the closed forums in Jerusalem where details of the peace negotiations with the Palestinians are discussed, unprecedentedly harsh criticism of Kerry and his staff has been heard in recent weeks. For example, senior Israeli diplomatic officials have called Kerry's security plan for the Jordan Valley "ridiculous," saying it would be unable to withstand the test of reality.
Diplomatic officials also said: "Kerry visits here a lot, but he does not display any understanding of what is happening here. The U.S. plans are superficial and not serious. There is no connection between what is said in public about the progress of the negotiations and what is actually happening. It seems that Kerry is just not in touch with reality. He is not an expert, to say the least, on the roots of the conflict, he does not know how to create real solutions and does not even demonstrate proficiency in reading maps that are presented to him."
"The conduct of the U.S. secretary of state is obsessive. There are those who say that more than wanting to advance peace, he wants to take advantage of the conflict for his political needs. According to this line of thought, Kerry seems to think his path to the White House is via the signing of a Middle East peace agreement."
"Kerry, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro and U.S. Special Envoy Martin Indyk are wandering around the country, meeting ministers, briefing journalists and creating a feeling that a peace agreement is about to be signed."
"Israel is forced to cooperate with the American plan, mainly out of concern that if we reject it, the U.S. will blame Israel for the failure of the negotiations."
"We believe that in return for Israel's request to extend negotiations by a year, Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] will ask more of Israel, such as a [settlement construction] freeze or another prisoner release, and these demands will be backed by Kerry and turned into an American demand, accompanied by a threat. This, while the Arabs have never given anything in return, from the Oslo negotiations until today."
"The negotiations are currently being carried out without papers or documents passing between the sides. This is because the Arabs are refusing to present written documents. The Americans are coming with prepared proposals, they read them and do not leave documents with either side. It is all done verbally. The Netanyahu government is cooperating with Kerry's initiative with the clear knowledge that the Arab side will not accept the agreement and ultimately [Israel] will not be required to make concessions or evacuate settlements."