Former Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly sought to undermine the Trump administration's current policy in dealing with the nihilist Palestinian leadership. According to an article appearing in Maariv, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post, Kerry met a senior Palestinian leader, Hussein Agha, in London recently and told him to convey a clandestine message to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The message was that Abbas should “play for time” and “not yield to President [Donald] Trump’s demands.” Kerry reportedly predicted that President Trump would not be in office for long - perhaps not more than a year. Possibly for that reason, Kerry allegedly advised that the Palestinians should aim their criticisms at President Trump personally, rather than more broadly at the United States. According to the report, Kerry also offered to help the Palestinians devise an alternative peace plan and advance it with Europeans, Arab states and the international community at large. Finally, Kerry reportedly told Agha that he was seriously considering running for president in 2020, as if he had not done enough damage to U.S. national security already in negotiating, for example, the disastrous nuclear deal with Iran.
Agha, who is considered a close associate of Abbas, reportedly shared details of his conversation with Kerry with senior Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah, although it is not clear whether he delivered Kerry’s message directly to Abbas. Maariv’s source for its reporting is said to be a "senior Palestinian Authority official." As of the writing of this article, Kerry has not denied the report. If he does eventually get around to denying the report, one needs to be skeptical. As an editorial appearing on January 25th in the New York Sun points out regarding Kerry’s latest reported foray into faux diplomacy, “what he is just reported to have done in respect (sic) the Palestinian Arabs is so similar to what he did in respect of the Vietnamese communists. That was back in 1970, when, just off active duty from the Navy after his brief tour in Vietnam, he went to Paris and met there with representatives of the Viet Cong.”
If the Maariv report is even partially accurate, Kerry has a lot of explaining to do.
Perhaps Kerry has forgotten that he is a private citizen now. He is thus barred under the Logan Act from communicating with any foreign government or its officers, in the absence of authorization by the U.S. government, “with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States.” The Palestinian Authority falls within the broad definition of a “foreign government” irrespective of recognition by the United States.
Aside from whether Kerry acted unlawfully, his reported statements to Agha were boneheaded to say the least. The Palestinian leadership does not want genuine peace. Abbas’s hate-filled speech on January 14th proved beyond any reasonable doubt that Abbas cannot be trusted as a negotiating partner.
Contrast Kerry’s coddling of Abbas with how the current U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, characterized Abbas’s lack of courageous leadership in her remarks to the UN Security Council on January 25th. She pointed to Egyptian President Anwar Sadat as a model leader who spoke to the Israeli Knesset and offered genuine peace and security to Israel, making possible “painful compromises” on both sides. Ambassador Haley then recalled how Abbas had used his January 14thspeech to declare the Oslo Peace Accords dead, threaten suspension of recognition of Israel, and invoke “an ugly and fictional past, reaching back to the 17th century to paint Israel as a colonialist project engineered by European powers.”
“Hate-filled speeches and end-runs around negotiations take us nowhere,” Ambassador Haley said. “Ultimately, peace will not be achieved without leaders with courage. If President Abbas demonstrates he can be that type of leader, we would welcome it. His recent actions demonstrate the total opposite.”
Ambassador Haley concluded her remarks to the Security Council with this challenge:
“The United States remains deeply committed to helping the Israelis and the Palestinians reach a historic peace agreement that brings a better future to both peoples, just as we did successfully with the Egyptians and the Jordanians. But we will not chase after a Palestinian leadership that lacks what is needed to achieve peace. To get historic results, we need courageous leaders. History has provided such leaders in the past. For the sake of the Palestinian and Israeli people, we pray it does so again.”
Abbas has proven himself time and time again to be a failed leader without the courage it takes to achieve a genuine and durable peace for the sake of both the Palestinian and Israeli people. John Kerry’s embrace of Abbas, a pusillanimous and hate-filled excuse for a leader, demonstrates yet again what we have known about Kerry for some time. He is an empty suit, willing to indulge his delusions of grandeur and sabotage the current administration’s foreign policy out of spite.