Israel’s Defense Minister, Moshe Yaalon, described John Kerry’s peace process involvement as being motivated by “incomprehensible obsession and messianic feeling”. This is, of necessity a very abbreviated effort to give a context to Kerry’s present mission and to explain my misgivings about it.
If you look at it objectively, Israel’s goals and those of the Palestinian Authority are two parallel lines that never meet, no matter how hard you try to bend them. Israel will not accept a new division of Jerusalem and a “right of return” for Palestinian refugees. The Palestinians, despite wanting to be recognized as a state, refuse to accept Israel as a “Jewish State”. So we have two obstinate men, Netanyahu and Abbas to which we can now add a third obstinate man, Kerry.
The whole concept of a Jewish Home in the land of its ancestors was flawed from the very beginning. At the 1897 Zionist Congress a fact finding delegation traveled to the region to assess the possibilities. It reported that the bride was beautiful but already married to another man. Still Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism continued to believe that coexistence was possible. In 1948 the United Nations passed a resolution to establish two states side by side. In response the surrounding Arab countries invaded the newly born state of Israel and tried in several successive wars to annihilate it.
Since then Israel’s determination to stay alive led to a hardening of policies toward the territories it had conquered in 1967. Even Bill Clinton who could charm the fish out of the ocean had to acknowledge defeat. He came so close to a settlement when Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat almost all he had asked for. Arafat turned down a very good deal because he relished his sense of victimhood over any kind of settlement. This allowed Ariel Sharon to be elected. Under his hawkish rule, the policy of establishing settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip began. He believed that only the sword could decide the bitter conflict.
In 2005 Sharon, in an about face, unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. Instead of easing tensions, this ushered in the rule of Hamas (an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood) and the start of rockets launched into Israel. We do not know whether Sharon was softening his position and planned a retreat from the West Bank before he suffered a stroke. Under Netanyahu, settlement building escalated leading to the present impasse.
During Sharon’s funeral the Iron Dome anti-missile system was very much in evidence because it was feared that an attack might be launched.
Despite having achieved zero results in his self-imposed task, Kerry continues to shuttle back and forth and to issue optimistic statements. Is he really after a Nobel Peace Prize? Is he trying to cement President Obama’s legacy with a success in the Middle East?
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