by Thomas Rose 6 Apr 2014, 4:30 AM PDT
As US Secretary of State John Kerry prepared to return home empty handed yet again from two weeks of overseas diplomacy, he told reporters in Morocco that as far as his Middle East peace initiative goes, it is “reality check time”. One wonders.
Does Kerry actually think it is his Israeli and Palestinian interlocutors – who he all but forced to assume pre-assigned roles in what appeared to be more a personal bid for diplomatic glory than a bona fide effort to reach a genuine peace – who need a “reality check”? Or could it be John Kerry himself who needs a reality check?
His public soul searching comes after Israel’s decision on Thursday to formally cancel the last of four staged releases of Palestinian terrorists from Israeli jails. This itself came two days after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas terminated the talks by applying for membership in 15 separate United Nations treaties and conventions.
Kerry tried to dismiss the Palestinian move by claiming that none of the UN organisations and treaties to which Abbas applied were in fact UN organisations or treaties. A condition of the talks, presided over by the United States, was that the Palestinian Authority would refrain from any unilateral moves to win UN recognition of Palestinian statehood in exchange for Israel agreeing to release 104 convicted Palestinian murderers being held in Israeli jails. After Abbas defiantly applied for UN recognition, Israel cancelled the prisoner release.
As if Israel wasn’t already convinced that the Palestinians had no intentions whatsoever to resume peace talks beyond their scheduled expiration date of April 29th, late on Thursday the Palestinian Authority (PA) issued still more demands. In a statement published by the Palestinian new agency Maan, the PA announced it would not resume any negotiations with Israeli until Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commits in writing that Israel agrees to withdraw Israeli forces and citizens from all areas beyond the armistice lines of June 4, 1967; that he agrees to partition Jerusalem, Israel’s capital city, and that Israel will release an additional 1200 convicted Palestinian terrorists being held in Israeli jails.
As everyone should know by now, these demands weren’t issued to advance the cause of establishing a Palestinian state. They were issued by the PA to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state and to stop any and all bilateral negotiations by which such a state could ever be established. Kerry’s last lament to reporters in Morocco on the final stop of his fruitless 13-day sojourn through Europe, Africa and the Middle East sounded as though Kerry himself has learned nothing during his 8 month self-created ordeal:
“There are limits in the amount of time and effort that the United States can spend if the parties themselves are unwilling to take constructive steps in order to be able to move forward.”
Of course there are limits Mr. Secretary; which is why you never should have undertaken this initiative in the first place. American resources, measured both in time and money, not to mention credibility are not limitless.
Committing American resources to quests with absolutely no prospect of success is to squander American resources. As Caroline Glick details in her new book “The Israeli Solution”, the two-state solution has been formally tried at least 13 times since 1947; nine times by the US alone since 1970.
Each time the US tried the same solution, it has met the same result. Not only have each of them failed, each failure rendered the Middle East less stable, the US less credible and ironically, the Palestinians themselves, less well off.
Not only has Kerry’s latest quest ended no differently than all the others, it may yet prove worse. There was no serious talk of an armed third Palestinian terror rising before Kerry clamored for renewed negotiations. Now there is. There was no talk of slowed growth, let alone recession in the West Bank before Kerry clamored for renewed negotiations. Now there is.
Before these talks, the West Bank was enjoying some of the fastest growth rates since before the Oslo process killed that growth starting in 1993. Is it a coincidence that each time a major outside push to reimpose the two state plan fails, that failure is followed by more violence, more instability and more economic dislocation?
Is there a word other than obstinance that can describe such persistent pursuit of failure? Will John Kerry's biggest failure to date finally be “reality check time” for the two state plan? Don’t bet on it.