At World Economic Forum, Kerry touts U.S. engagement in Middle East

( U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated America’s commitment to Middle East engagement at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He dedicated a considerable amount of time during his Davos speech to the U.S.-brokered Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations.

“If talks fail, for Israel, the demographic dynamic will make it impossible to preserve its future as a democratic Jewish state,” Kerry said. “Today’s status quo cannot last forever.”

Kerry said that the Palestinians might also risk losing their last chance at an independent state. Kerry also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Davos on Friday. Netanyahu reiterated his position that Israel must remain in the Jordan Valley for security reasons.

“I do not intend to evacuate any settlements or uproot a single Israeli,” Netanyahu said.

Yet it was reported by the London-based daily al-Hayat that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are discussing a limited series of withdrawals from the West Bank, dependent on the Palestinians maintaining security in the area.

“There is talk of security arrangements and standards for these arrangements, which will last for many years, and these standards are subject to the so-called improved Palestinian security performance, which will govern by Israel in the end,” said Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top Palestinian official.

Rabbo also said that the plan is based on “Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, to establish a Palestinian capital in a part of east Jerusalem, and solving the refugee problem according to the vision of former U.S. President Bill Clinton.” 

According to Rabbo, Israel will be able to maintain control of several settlement blocs, border crossings, and airspace, as well as the presence of Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian troops on the border.

“I think Kerry will get his framework agreement of some kind. Whether that leads to serious negotiations, a comprehensive agreement, or let alone implementation, is impossible to predict right now,” Aaron David Miller, a former U.S. Mideast adviser and negotiator, told  

Posted on January 24, 2014 .