Its not very often that Senator John Kerry gets something correct–especially about the Middle East. Lets face it, this is the guy who, when running for President in 2004, tried to get the Jewish vote by announcing that he would make Jimmy Carter or James “F**k the Jews they won’t vote for us anyway” Baker as his Middle East negotiator. But I have to give credit where credit is due–this time the Massachusetts senator and heir to his wife’s ketchup fortune got it half right.
In a speech on Tuesday Kerry said that the approach taken by President Obama to seek peace between Israel and the Palestinians was a waste of time. He also said that Obama’s approach may have caused the gridlock in negotiations happening today.
“I was opposed to the prolonged effort on the settlements in a public way because I never thought it would work and, in fact, we have wasted a year and a half on something that for a number of reasons was not achievable,” Kerry told the U.S.-Islamic World Forum, organized by the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center. “I think it sort of put the cart ahead of the horse in a way here. The key is to get to the security and borders definition and if you can get the borders definition you’ve solved the problem of the settlements. But we can’t get that discussion right now.”
Not content with quitting while he was ahead, Kerry continued by saying that the president will step out very soon with a new initiative that might break the gridlock, forgetting the fact that it takes “two to tango.”
“I suspect that it’s very possible that President Obama will even step out ahead of that and will possibly–I say possibly–make his own contribution to where he thinks the process ought to go in the meantime. Conceivably, that can come together in a responsible effort that produces a transition here,” Kerry said. “I think we can get to borders and the fundamental issues fairly quickly and its conceivable that between now and September we will do that.”
By September, Sen. Kerry is talking about the Palestinian Authority’s effort to evade negotiations and get the UN General Assembly to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state with a capital in Jerusalem, within the 1949 armistice lines.
Kerry’s original statement is correct, President Obama’s Middle East policy is in ruins. The U.S. continues to press Israel for a settlement freeze (and a freeze on Jerusalem), even though Obama’s strategy has totally fallen apart. The president’s demands have given the Palestinians an excuse to avoid negotiations and the other Arab nations an excuse to avoid making the “gestures” for which the President is looking.
What the President and his advisers perceived as a minor concession (a settlement freeze) was for Israel, a grave sacrifice. It also broke a Israeli/US agreement allowing the Jewish state to add housing to existing communities. This was a major error by the Obama administration. Their insistence on a freeze and their constant one-sided public berating of the Jewish state has turned the Israeli population against Obama, especially the Israeli left, whom Obama would look to for support.
Why why were the Palestinians so quick to use the “settlement” issue to delay negotiations? Because of something that President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, “Why The Long Face John?” Kerry, and most in the progressive community do not understand: the Palestinian leadership does not want a peace agreement, and never did.
The strategy has always been to look like a moderate in English call for war in Arabic. Its why both Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas each rejected deals which would have given them nearly everything that they were demanding. It is also why the Palestinian Authority continues to praise or downplay terrorists attacks on Israeli civilians.
For example, the closest advisor to the PA prime minister claims the recent attack on an Israeli school bus which critically injured a 16-year-old child was exaggerated by those evil Zionists:
Or the recent ceremony where Palestinian Authority Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Karake visited the family of the terrorist Abbas Al-Sayid who planned the homicide bombing in 2002, where the bomber entered a hotel in Netanya and detonated his bomb during the Passover seder dinner, killing 30 innocent people. A photo in the PA newspaper shows the minister handing the family an honorary plaque from the PA. As Palestinian Media Watch has reported that honoring terrorists is an integral part of PA policy.
The leadership of the Palestinian Authority continues to demonize Israel and Jews because its good for business.
Arafat and his cronies famously stole billions of dollars of foreign aid slated to help the Palestinian Arab community. Abbas’ government has had similar problems with corruption (which is why Hamas won the PA election in 2006). Only by continuing the incitement against all Israel and Jews, can the PA leadership keep the heat off themselves.
Even today, despite what Kerry said the other day, the Palestinians have no desire to negotiate for peace. And now they don’t have to; they are are just biding their time till September when the UN General Assembly will make a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood. While it wont have the authority of a Security Council resolution, it will give the PA legitimacy, without having to make territorial, security, or any other kind so concessions to Israel.
John Kerry’s declaration was half right, Obama has spent the first half of his administration screwing up the Middle East peace process by focusing on Israel’s expansion of existing communities in Judea and Samaria as well as the building in Jerusalem. Unfortunately it is too late for the second half of his comments to come true. Why should the Palestinian Authority negotiate for something in May, when four months later they are likely to be handed all that they want on a silver platter?