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A timely call to John Kerry

Hardly a group of people to ignore, write, in effect, an open letter to John Kerry - on Politico Magazine - in relation to the now, once again, so-called peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel.

"We commend Secretary of State John Kerry’s extraordinary efforts to renew Israeli-Palestinian talks and negotiations for a framework for a peace accord, and the strong support his initiative has received from President Barack Obama.

We believe these efforts, and the priority Kerry has assigned to them, have been fully justified. However, we also believe that the necessary confidentiality that Secretary Kerry imposed on the resumed negotiations should not preclude a far more forceful and public expression of certain fundamental U.S. positions:

Settlements: U.S. disapproval of continued settlement enlargement in the Occupied Territories by Israel’s government as “illegitimate” and “unhelpful” does not begin to define the destructiveness of this activity. Nor does it dispel the impression that we have come to accept it despite our rhetorical objections. Halting the diplomatic process on a date certain until Israel complies with international law and previous agreements would help to stop this activity and clearly place the onus for the interruption where it belongs.

Palestinian incitement: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s charge that various Palestinian claims to all of historic Palestine constitute incitement that stands in the way of Israel’s acceptance of Palestinian statehood reflects a double standard. The Likud and many of Israel’s other political parties and their leaders make similar declarations about the legitimacy of Israel’s claims to all of Palestine, designating the West Bank “disputed” rather than occupied territory. Moreover, Israeli governments have acted on those claims by establishing Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank. Surely the “incitement” of Palestinian rhetoric hardly compares to the incitement of Israel’s actual confiscations of Palestinian territory. If the United States is not prepared to say so openly, there is little hope for the success of these talks, which depends far more on the strength of America’s political leverage and its determination to use it than on the good will of the parties.

The Jewishness of the state of Israel
: Israel is a Jewish state because its population is overwhelmingly Jewish, Jewish religious and historical holidays are its national holidays, and Hebrew is its national language. But Israeli demands that Palestinians recognize that Israel has been and remains the national homeland of the Jewish people is intended to require the Palestinians to affirm the legitimacy of Israel’s replacement of Palestine’s Arab population with its own. It also raises Arab fears of continuing differential treatment of Israel’s Arab citizens."

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