The State Department is not commenting on reports that Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposed framework for a final peace deal between Israel and a Palestinian state that would have American troops pulling security in the Jordan Valley.
Kerry supposedly would have U.S. troops in the Jordan Valley to prevent anti-Israel elements coming out of Jordan reaching Israel through the new state, according to reports in the London-based daily A-Sharq al-Awsat and Debkafile, an Israeli intelligence and security news service.
Both outlets indicated Kerry’s move was owed to Palestinian insistence that Israel remove all its forces and settlements from the valley as part of a final peace deal.
During a State Department press conference on Monday, Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf would not comment on questions relating to the framework that Kerry will be proposing.
The Times of Israel quoted the former commander of the IDF in the West Bank as saying Israeli security requires Israeli troops along the valley.
“I wouldn’t rely on foreign forces,” Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi said. “Our history shows that every time the deployment of international forces was tried in one form or another, their output in the field was not what we wanted. We need to rely on ourselves.”
Harf on Monday also declined to discuss another report out of Israel, that Kerry is ready to seek freedom for convicted spy Jonathan Pollard if Israel will complete an ongoing release of Palestinian prisoners that is intended to keep peace talks going.
The supposed deal was first reported by Israel’s Channel 10 television several days ago.
Pollard was a Navy civilian analyst when he was convicted in 1986 of supplying thousands of classified and secret documents to Israel. The U.S. has never provided an accounting of just what Pollard gave the Israelis. Some reports, including by longtime investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, indicate Israel “repackaged” some of the intel and provided it to the Soviet Union in exchange for Jewish emigration to Israel.
Pollard was sentenced to life for his espionage. Over the years Israeli officials have sought his release and may have come close in 1998 when President Bill Clinton considered freeing him as part of getting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree a plan to reinvigorate plans designed to – once again—bring peace to the Middle East.
Clinton dropped the plan after then-CIA Director George Tenet said he would resign if Pollard was freed.
“If a spy is let out as a consequence of these negotiations, I will never be able to lead my building,” Tenet, writing years later in his book, At the Center of the Storm, recalled telling Clinton. “I just want you to know that I appreciate the fact that you’ve allowed me to serve and I appreciate the opportunity you’ve given me, but I won’t be your CIA director in the morning” if Pollard is released.