The Secretary of State offers a plan, five of whose six points Israel has already accepted and the Palestinians already rejected. The sixth point? No Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall.
It is as if US Secretary of State John Kerry just dropped in from Mars to offer his solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Dec. 28, 2016.
Outer space news flash to Secretary Kerry: Your six-point plan has been tried. Repeatedly. With the exception of one of its six planks, it has been accepted by Israel.
And rejected by the Palestinians.
Back in 2000 and 2008.
It’s as if the Secretary of State didn’t know the history, and as if he himself hadn’t already tried and failed — for the same reason: Palestinian rejection. Now he comes with leftovers, packaged as conscience-stricken, only-this-will-work, incandescent wisdom.
Mr. Kerry suggests “land swaps.”
Just what President Bill Clinton suggested in 2000.
Just what Israel accepted in 2000.
Just what Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat rejected in 2000.
Just what Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas again rejected in 2008 — after having been re-offered, this time by Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
And just what Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made possible still another time when he froze settlements for 10 months in 2010, meeting Abbas’ demand. The result? Abbas didn’t come to the table.
Nothing new here. In 1967, following Israel’s defensive war against Arab countries that literally threatened to drive Israel into the Mediterranean Sea, the Arab League met in Khartoum. It came up with three no’s: no peace, no recognition, no negotiations with Israel. Egypt and Jordan rethought those no’s in, respectively, 1979 and 1994. The Palestinians never have rethought them, if we define “negotiations” as “negotiations in good faith,” i.e., with the willingness to settle the conflict once and for all.
Both the “moderate” Palestinian Authority and the “radical” Hamas agree; they both state openly: no final settlement with Israel. That position spells: no negotiations in good faith.
That is what the ahistoric John Kerry thinks we’ll all forget with his leftover six-point plan of last week.
We could run through the rest of Mr. Kerry’s six planks, to the same cause and effect.
They’re history. They’ve been tried and rejected — by one side only. The Palestinian leadership.
We cite the “land swap” plank because it’s the one that Mr. Kerry put forth in order to solve the settlement issue. Mr. Kerry dwells on it, implicitly asking us to be as oblivious to history as he is —the history of this conflict, rooted in the radical, sustained, Palestinian rejection of Israel’s right to any land anywhere in the Middle East.
Had Mr. Kerry — and Mrs. Clinton before him — chosen to focus on the Palestinian rejection not of settlements, but of Israel per se, they might have advanced the cause of peace. But because they focused on secondary, albeit important, issues, they retarded the cause of peace. Pushed it backwards. Mr. Kerry finds himself lending a diplomatic metaphor to the cultural revival of vinyl records: He sounds like a broken record. Same policy. Same speech. Same term paper. Same la-la land. Same overlooking of history.
The one plank in Mr. Kerry’s six-plank program that Israel has rejected is the non-sovereignty of Israel over Jerusalem.
Notice the absence of distinction. Mr. Kerry rails against Israeli sovereignty over West Jerusalem as well as over East Jerusalem. To Mr. Kerry, Israel has no sovereignty over West Jerusalem’s King David Hotel or East Jerusalem’s Western Wall; no sovereignty over West Jerusalem’s Rehavia or East Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter. Equally: no sovereignty anywhere in Jerusalem. Irony! Mr. Kerry also believes in a united Jerusalem — just united without Israeli sovereignty. In his own perverted way, Mr. Kerry also believes that Jerusalem is indivisible:Israel has no sovereignty over any of it.
“Settlements.” “Occupied territories.” Kerry seems to think that they too have no history, no causation other than unilateral Israeli action. The history, of course, is just the opposite: The West Bank is under Israeli control because Jordan and other Arab states lost the war they launched against Israel in 1967. Mr. Kerry, please cite another instance in which territories lost in an aggressive war were returned to the losers — and for the express purpose of the losers carrying on the same war, just as Hamas has done since it took over the Gaza Strip, withdrawn from by Israel in 2005.
It’s not just Mr. Kerry’s political opponents who are appalled by his speech on the Middle East. It is also his political allies.
Here is what Sen. Charles Schumer, Democrat, incoming Senate minority leader, has to say:
“While Secretary Kerry mentions Gaza in his speech, he seems to have forgotten the history of settlements in Gaza, where the Israeli government forced settlers to withdraw from all settlements [in 2005] and the Palestinians responded by sending rockets into Israel.”
Here is what a spokesman for the British government has to say: “ . . . we do not believe it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally.”
Britain ought to know. It too has been the subject of such an attack. Here is what Boris Johnson, the foreign minister of Britain, has to say:
“For the US to tell us in the UK that we must surrender control of so much of our democracy [by threatening Britain if it voted to leave the European Union, which it did] — it is a breathtaking example of the principle of do as I say but not as I do.”
Here is what Steny Hoyer, Democrat, House Democratic whip, has to say:
“I continue to believe that the UN Security Council is the wrong forum for critiquing Israeli policies.”
Here is what Sen. Ted Cruz, Republican, has to say:
“Kerry’s central conclusion, that ‘Israel can either be Jewish or democratic, it cannot be both,’ is an inanity that passes as profound only in Ivory Tower faculty lounges. There are roughly 50 majority-Muslim countries in the world. There is one — only one — Jewish state. And yet, for Kerry and Obama, that is too much.”
Also too much for Secretary Kerry: a speech on the Middle East that makes mention of Afghanistan or Iraq, where actual American troops fight; of Christians driven from the Middle East; of rising ISIS terrorism in Turkey; of 6.1 million Syrian refugees, most still in the Middle East; of 500,000 murdered Syrians; or of his own failure to achieve a final status, or even an interim status, solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
What we have here is a pathetic attempt by Mr. Kerry and his boss to be relevant in their waning days in office, as if a news flash from Mars will do the trick, as if they still have not gotten the message that his side lost the last presidential election.
The Israel-Palestinian conflict remains with the parties themselves, and with whatever assist Team Trump might be able to bring to the table. Don’t look for miracles because, with the America-facilitated law of the Security Council that Israel has no right to any land, Palestinians have no reason to come to the table — except their own self-interest.
That, so far, has not been a motivator. That, not settlements, is the core issue. As Golda Meir said, “Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us.”
Copyright © 2017 by the Intermountain Jewish News