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  • February 26, 2013

    Kerry and the ‘peace process’

    By Elliot Abrams

    There must be something in the water at the State Department that leads successive secretaries of state to decide, seemingly on their first day there, that now is the time for a big new push at a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

    Here we go again. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry intends to place the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the center of his diplomatic activities and to strive to achieve a breakthrough agreement between the two sides during President Obama’s second term in office, according to the assessment of well-placed sources in Washington and New York.”


    Why? The article continues: “Nonetheless, the 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.”

    Lest it be thought that this is the take solely of one Israeli newspaper, here is the Los Angeles Times’ experienced correspondent Paul Richter: “As Kerry heads off Sunday on his debut trip as secretary of state to nine nations in Europe and the Middle East, his blunt exchange with Assad offers insight on his determination to use whatever it takes — even insults — to help resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, his personal passion. Kerry has made it clear he wants to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, a long and sporadic process whose latest collapse occurred during Obama’s first term. He is well aware that failed attempts tarnished the reputations of elder statesmen and presidents for decades, including Obama. He is not deterred.”

    Oh, boy.

    Two things strike me about these reports. First, our new secretary of state does not appear to be operating from any new assessment of the situation received from State Department or other U.S. experts, nor from Israelis or Palestinians. He is entering the office certain of what can be achieved and certain he is the man to achieve it. This is not the best way to make policy.

    Second, he seems unaware of, or anyway undeterred by, the risks and downsides. Raising hopes that are later dashed, opening negotiations that sadly go nowhere, holding ceremonial openings that never lead to tangible achievements — all of these undermine faith on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides that peace is achievable. American failures of any sort have the same effect, on those parties and others in the region. Moreover, the insistent (obsessive?) focus on breakthroughs and huge achievements leads too often to ignoring more practical, shorter-range, and achievable agreements that are sometimes derided as “small ball.” Better small ball than the swing for the fences that, time after time, ends the inning in a strikeout.

    Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. This piece is reprinted with permission and can be found on Abrams’ blog Pressure Points here.

    From Pressure Points by Elliott Abrams. Reprinted with permission from the Council on Foreign Relations.

  • Posted by Ted Belman @ 4:28 pm | 7 Comments »

    7 Comments to Kerry and the ‘peace process’

    1. andrew says:

      Whats the old saying – those that the gods wish to destroy first make believe that they can solve the mid sast conflict.

    2. Alan says:

      Maybe the Israelis will be smart enough to throw Traitor John out on his ass when he shows up on their doorstep – and send a message to Bonzo in doing so.

    3. Honey Bee says:

      @ andrew

      May be he will pour catsup all over the problem?

    4. Canuck Frank says:

      I hope Israel will pay no attention to “American Jewish leaders” whose advice Kerry wants to rely on, who are still supporting Obama et al

    5. catarin says:

      Kerry is so anxious to solve the Israeli-Arab problem that he skips a visit to Israel on his first trip?

    6. Honey Bee says:

      @ catarin:

      He’s needs to go to France first So he can arm himself with enought wine bottles for the trip to Israel. Arab Islamic Extremsitist Terroist be ware

    7. Alan says:

      YOU wanted this crew of dreck, Catmarin – you and your fellow Demon-CRAPS.

      By putting Hagel in, your friends have taken not just Israel, but America and the world much closer to World War III. Iran is going to go ahead with the nuke program – and Bibi’s gonna clobber ‘em.

      You and your friend Freyman and the rest are going to regret your vote very soon, darling.

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