So, SoS Kerry is having a horrible, no good, very bad week…

Abbas: Negotiations made zero progress so far

Peace negotiations with Israel haven’t made any progress so far despite all the meetings between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators, President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday…

“Israel is saying that after prisoners have been released, settlement expansion should continue,” Abbas said.

This connection, he added, and this parity might blow up the situation while negotiations have achieved nothing yet.

Abbas also asserted that he turned down a request by the US administration to freeze any legal procedures through international organizations during the nine months of negotiations.

“It is the Palestinians who can decide on this step and nobody can force them to take it,” he said.

Alex Kane, at Mondoweiss, further elaborates… Netanyahu’s sweet deal: 104 prisoners for thousands of settlements.

Ironically, in an Ike like moment of clarity, as he’s headed out the door…


Chief security adviser: If talks fail, Israel risks isolation

Yaakov Amidror warns pressure and boycotts may increase if no progress with Palestinians, says ‘everything must be done’ to stop Iran

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s outgoing national security adviser, Yaakov Amidror, said Sunday that should the current US-brokered peace talks with the Palestinians fail, Israel’s position in the world could worsen, and international pressure would mount.

At a ceremony marking the end of his tenure at the Prime Minister’s Office, Amidror said “it [is] clear to everyone that handling international pressure depends on the progress of the negotiations, and if the talks fail, it will give everyone interested in boycotting us every reason to do so.”

The outgoing adviser called the EU’s decision in July to issue directives imposing bans on funding to Israeli entities with links to the settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights, a “conscious decision.” He warned that Israel must take what he described as a “type of an economic boycott” very seriously…

As RT put it…

US peace effort wavers as Israel issues tenders for new settlement homes

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the ministers of his Likud party on Sunday that he never promised to freeze settlement construction during talks, according to a source cited by AFP.

“The Palestinians knew very well that Israel would be building during the negotiations,” Netanyahu told them. “Israel did not take upon itself any limitations in this regard.”

But, that’s only one of Kerry’s severe migraines this week…

Kerry aims to bridge gaps with Saudis

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry moved Sunday to reassure America’s Arab friends that the United States will not allow them to be attacked “from outside,” in an apparent warning to Iran.

Speaking in Egypt while en route to Saudi Arabia where he hopes to mend relations strained by Saudi unhappiness with U.S. actions in Syria, its tentative warming with Iran and stance on Egypt, Kerry acknowledged differences with some partners but stressed they shared common goals in each case.

In addition, he said Saudi Arabia and other U.S. allies in the Gulf could count on America’s support.

“The United States will be there for the defense of our friends and our allies,” Kerry told reporters in Cairo. “We will not allow those countries to be attacked from outside. We will stand with them.”

From Riyadh…

US-Saudi ties on track, says Kerry

The top US diplomat was hastily dispatched to Riyadh to patch things up after rare complaints from the top Saudi leadership emerged in recent weeks.

Kerry acknowledged things were tough as the region is rocked by the turmoil of the Arab Spring, which is reshaping the geopolitical landscape.

“Right now we have some very important things to talk about to make certain the Saudi-US relationship is on track, moving forward and doing the things that we need to accomplish,” he told US embassy staff in Riyadh.

The upheaval sweeping parts of the Middle East has witnessed the rise of powerful new extremist groups in Libya and Syria, with Iran accused of fomenting unrest to aid Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in his 31-month battle against rebel forces.

Saudi Arabia, locked in a decades-long rivalry with Iran, is concerned that proposed Syrian peace talks could leave a Tehran-backed regime in place in Damascus and that a breakthrough in nuclear negotiations could also lead to a US rapprochement with its arch foe.

Kerry paid tribute to the conservative oil-rich kingdom’s traditional role in the region, praising the Saudis as “really the senior player in the Arab world.”

Earlier, Sharmine Narwani, wrote on her FB wall

Here’s what you didn’t hear about the Maliki-Obama meeting: Washington is planning to replace Saudi Arabia for Iraq as its main Arab regional partner. The Americans want a strategic relationship that can balance its interests with the increasingly influential Iranians. And hey – Iraq is also conveniently in the Persian Gulf, has money, oil and soon…mega clout.

My, my…! So, while the entire Arab League, minus the Saudis, were pushing the Syrian opposition to attend Geneva II…

Arab League to press Syria opposition over peace talks

Arab League foreign ministers gathered in Cairo on Sunday to push the Syrian opposition to attend the proposed Geneva II peace conference.

Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said in comments broadcast live on Egyptian state television that the extraordinary meeting of the ministers aimed to “encourage” the Syrian opposition to attend the Geneva II talks, which are backed by the United States and Russia.

“The minsters are asked today to provide all the support to the (opposition Syrian) National Coalition in order to encourage it to participate in Geneva II,” Arabi said.

Syria’s opposition has refused to attend unless President Bashar al-Assad’s resignation is on the table — a demand rejected by Damascus.

Some rebel groups fighting the Syrian regime have also warned that participants would be considered traitors.

And, much to the Sauds(and Kerry’s) chagrin…

Syria stresses commitment to attend Geneva II conference

“We have stressed that we were going to attend the Geneva II conference whether it is going to be held tomorrow, the day after, or within a week or even a month or more, this is our steady stance,” Mekdad told a press conference.

While stressing the Syrian government’s keenness to make the conference successful, Mekdad said the conference must adopt the concept of non-violence and non-terrorism immediately.

“When Syrians sit together, they would find solutions to the internal problems,” he remarked.

His remarks came a day after the broad-based Syrian National Coalition (SNC), the main opposition umbrella in exile, placed preconditions to its participation in the planned conference, which is designed to hammer out a political solution to the country’s long-standing conflict.

On Sunday, the Western-backed SNC threw a monkey wrench into the planned peace talks in Geneva, saying that it will not attend the “Geneva II” peace conference unless there is a strict timetable for President Bashar al-Assad to leave power.

So, with the immediate rejection of that obstinate SNC stance, from all the Geneva II participants, the Saudis just had to double down on their utter hypocrisy…

Meanwhile… IAEA chief sees Iran easing conditions to cooperate

And to be sure, pups…

Iran says sanction relief to take time

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Monday that nobody should expect sanction relief will take place in a short time.

“Removing the complicated Western sanctions requires enough time,” Rouhani said, adding that “but it does not mean that we do not have any hope for a solution to the problems.”

So who comprises the Axis of Evil again…?

*gah*