By Adam Gonn
JERUSALEM, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- With the clock ticking down on United States Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to complete a framework for a peace-agreement, Israelis and Palestinians are doing their best to stake their claims and to criticize Kerry.
In Israel, Kerry, who has worked to promote peace since he assumed office last February, has been criticized by several senior ministers, including Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon. Some right-wing politicians have even implicated that Kerry's statement that Israel could face isolation if it failed to reach an agreement was anti-Semitic.
Guy Ben-Porat, a professor from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, told Xinhua on Tuesday the statements made by some Israeli politicians are based on stress of the situation, but is based on some internal political interests.
"By attacking Kerry they are showing their constituency that they are adamant in protecting what they believe is core values. There is both some concern over what Kerry intends to achieve but also some interest that are about more local internal politics," Ben-Porat said.
Gabriel Ben-Dor, a professor from the University of Haifa, said that this isn't the first time some Israeli politicians have made similar remarks and that they "say that Kerry has a very special personal agenda and that he wants to realize his ambitions of becoming a worldwide statesmen, perhaps a U.S. president or perhaps a winner of the Nobel peace prize at the expense of Israel, " adding that Israeli politicians have only recently come out in the open with these accusations.
GIVE SOME LOSE SOME
Kerry was originally scheduled to present his framework by the end of March, however, according to the Israeli newspaper the Jerusalem Post, the deadline has now been pushed forward to April 29 to resolve outstanding issues.
One such issue is the Israeli demand that Abbas recognize Israel as "the Jewish homeland," which Abbas rejected over the weekend in an interview with the New York Times. The main argument, on the Palestinian side, is that it would in effect rule out the right of Palestinians who left or fled when Israel was created to return to those areas, known as the Palestinian right to return. The right of return is a fundamental principal for Palestinians and forgoing it would come with a heavy political price for Abbas.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for whom recognition would be a major victory, has pounced on Abbas' interview and said if the talks do fail then Abbas would be to blame. However, Netanyahu has been less forthcoming when it comes to some of the demands that Kerry's framework would put on Israel, such as dividing Jerusalem and giving up some settlements.
Ben-Porat said that Kerry's framework won't be a done deal but rather a basis for further negotiations.
"What Kerry puts on the table, if it's going to be a balanced and reasonable proposal backed by the U.S. government and the Europeans, might create a very strong pressure," Ben-Porat said.
Ben-Dor said that the Israeli criticism will likely quiet down because U.S. President Barack Obama wasn't really involved; however, now that Kerry appears to be making some progress, the president is giving him backing.
"It will be toned down now that the U.S. president has put his prestige behind the process," Ben-Dor said. "It is clear that it's not a personal thing but a U.S. policy. Therefore everyone in interested in toning down the conflict and keeping the personal insults out of the exchange."