I’ve been covering the Israel/Palestine situation for well over a decade now, and one would think I’d be inured to the farcical actions by now…! But, once again, my jaw hit the desk with this bit of news…

Kerry, Abbas Knew of Building Plans in Advance

In a press conference in Brazil, US Secretary of State says Netanyahu had been “completely up front” about building from the start

US Secretary of State John Kerry revealed Tuesday that he and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas were fully aware that the Israeli government intended to continue building in parts of Judea and Samaria which “will not affect the peace map” when the decision was made to restart talks.

As such, despite the “outcry” by the Palestinian Authority, Abbas is still committed to talks with Israel over the next nine months, he said.

At a press conference in Brazil, Kerry declared that “the policy of the United States with respect to all settlements, is that they are illegitimate.”

“But, that said, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was completely up front with me and with president Abbas that he would be announcing some additional building in places that will not affect the peace map, that will not have any impact on the capacity to have a peace agreement,”he continued.

Kerry also stressed the “urgency to get into the discussion of borders and security”

Seriously… What Borders…?

To be sure of Israeli intentions… Israel approves another 942 settlement units…

…The units are in addition to the more than 1,000 settlement homes approved by Israel on Sunday, in a move that has angered the Palestinians and drawn fire from the international community.

“The Jerusalem municipality has approved a construction plan for 942 homes in Gilo,” an existing settlement in East Jerusalem, deputy mayor Yosef Pepe Alalu told AFP. {…}

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who convinced the two sides to return to the negotiating table after a three-year hiatus, urged the Palestinians “not to react adversely” to Israel’s approval on Sunday for new homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank…

Well, indeedy… Palestinians committed to peace with Israel through talks: Abbas

Now, I hold the unelected, excreable Abu Mazen(Abbas) in the same esteem as Bibi…! As I’d noted, two years ago, when the Palestine Papers first came out…

The Palestinian leadership will surely face criticism for what The Palestine Papers reveal. Some will be merited; some not. The overwhelming conclusion one draws from this record is that the process for a two-state solution is essentially over, that the history of the peace process is one of abject failure for all concerned. The Palestinian participants, having lost the most, will likely suffer most. But I can only come away with the passionately-held belief that these people deserved better.

The ensuing thread to that old post is well worth the perusal too…!

Here’s some of the Guardian’s coverage of the Papers…

Secret papers reveal slow death of Middle East peace process

• Massive new leak lifts lid on negotiations
• PLO offered up key settlements in East Jerusalem
• Concessions made on refugees and Holy sites

• Israel spurned offer of ‘biggest Jerusalem in history’
• Palestinian leaders weak – and increasingly desperate
• The story behind the Palestine papers

Here’s a great follow-up post of mine… A Palestinian Editor Calls Out Bibi, The PA, and The Arab League…

Now, in wrapping up, get a load of this steaming pile of WaPo…

In Mideast peace talks, a few reasons for optimism

…Kerry said Monday that he does not expect the latest housing announcement to be a “speed bump” that slows talks.

“As the world, I hope, knows, the United States of America views all the settlements as illegitimate,” Kerry said during a diplomatic visit to Colombia. “We have communicated that policy to all of our friends in Israel.”

Israeli leaders are deeply worried that Israel’s reputation is slipping internationally, largely because of the settlements. Netanyahu was rattled last month by European Union guidelines that ban most transactions with Israeli institutions built on territory seized in the 1967 war. Without a deal, many Israelis fear that Palestinians could win backing at the United Nations for efforts to punish Israel.

The Palestinian economy has plunged to new lows, with little hope of improvement unless Israel no longer controls all access to airports, shipping terminals, roads and water. Kerry is offering billions in outside investment tied to progress toward peace.

Arab states, including some of Abbas’s main political backers, have pledged to support a peace deal based on redrawn West Bank borders. That gives Abbas cover that his predecessor Yasser Arafat did not have when he balked at peace terms in 2000.

Kerry has set a nine-month window for talks. The idea is to keep the parties at the table and prevent stalling tactics. Kerry and his new Mideast envoy, Martin Indyk, are also expected to step in with U.S. proposals for some of the most difficult problems. That’s a level of rigor and outside discipline missing from the last major effort at peace, in 2008…

Are you f*cking kidding me…?

Funny how fast the Wapo issued a ‘correction’… An earlier version of this article misquoted Secretary of State John F. Kerry in his discussion of Israeli settlements. He said the United States “views all the settlements as illegitimate,” not illegal…

Next stop for the Palestinians should be the ICC…!

And, I do have to agree… Hamas says peace talks ‘futile’