Tuesday, February 26, 2013

John Kerry's Passion To Resolve Israel-Palestine Conflict -- And The Danger

Elliot Abrams writes about Kerry and the “Peace Process” as our new Secretary of State John Kerry has convinced himself that he can succeed where those before him -- including Obama -- have failed.

Abrams quotes Haaretz that John Kerry 'determined' to get Palestinian Authority, Israel to reach peace agreement. The thing is that Kerry is much more than just determined, according to Haaretz:
[T]he overall impression left by the discussions conducted in recent weeks by Kerry and his advisers with European, Israeli and Arab officials, as well as American Jewish leaders, is that the former Massachusetts senator is “determined to the point of obsession,” as one skeptical interlocutor put it, to change the tone and direction of relations between Israel and the Palestinians during his term as Secretary of State. “He sees it as the holy mission of his life,” the source said. Kerry is convinced that his years of experience with the region and his deep personal relationships with many of its main protagonists, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, place him in a unique position to succeed where his predecessors have failed and to bring about not only a resumption of talks but a long-term agreement as well.
Does anyone actually share Kerry's enthusiasm that he is the one fix the problem?

Maybe Kerry is feeling encouraged based on all those trips of his to Syria?
No, that can't be it.

Part of the problem of course is that this is the real world, and as such -- actions have consequences.
Obama proved that when he decided to make the freezing of Israeli settlements a precondition to talks as opposed to leaving them as an issue to be negotiated.

The result is that the peace talks became frozen instead, as Abbas -- who has never had to make concessions -- could demand no less than Obama and made a settlement freeze into a precondition for his even showing up to talk.

Abrams thus warns about consequences of the kind of gung ho attitude Kerry seems to have:
  • Kerry seems to be basing himself on his own abilities as opposed to any new evaluation of the situation in the Middle East from any of the parties involved

  • There is a danger of raising hopes that ultimately end in bitter disappointment, resulting in a loss of faith by all those involved that peace in fact is achievable. (There is a general assessment that is basically where is Israel is now.)

  • An obsessive fixation on resolving the issue of the Israel-Palestinian conflict inevitably ignores the more practical, short term goals that can be achieved.
Now, we can only watch and see what Kerry has up his sleeve -- if he has new ideas, or will he fall into the trap that the outlines of a peace agreement are well known and all that is needed is to push the parties into the right direction.

We have already seen that that pushing the parties inevitably means pushing Israel to make unilateral concessions.

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