Tomorrow, April 29, will come and go and no one will be the worse for it. If the date is remembered at all, it will mark yet another failure of President Obama’s diplomacy which did not produce a breakthrough peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Obama and Kerry established the date as an artificial deadline for a peace deal. Because the deadline was artificial, it placed no pressure on the parties for agreement in the latest round of the never-ending Middle East “peace process.” It is never-ending for two reasons, neither of which Obama and Kerry understand.
First, peace — any peace — is reached when and only when one of the belligerents has been defeated or so reduced in its ability to resist that it is compelled to make peace on terms that benefit the other. Israel, though weakened by Obama’s efforts to isolate it and Europe’s strong financial and political support for the Palestinians, is still strong enough to refuse a deal like the one Obama and Kerry were peddling, which would have forced Israel to make concessions on borders and other matters it considers destructive to its national security.
Second, the dominant fact is that without the participation and agreement of the Arab League nations, there cannot be peace between the Palestinians and Israel. You cannot make peace with the surrogate, only with the principal. The Palestinians, at least since 1947, have been nothing more than a political tool of the Arab states.
The Palestinians are not only stronger than they were when Obama took office, they are emboldened by his actions and by the support they get from Europe and the Arab League nations which benefit them with ideological support, financial support, and arms for their terrorist networks.
Obama has tried, unsuccessfully, to hide his disdain for Israel and its Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, but it is revealed regularly. Consider a recent example. In March Kerry told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs that it was a mistake for the Israelis to raise the issue of recognition as a Jewish state. Seizing quickly on that, the Arab League issued a statement on March 26 that said, “We hold Israel entirely responsible for the lack of progress in the peace process and continuing tension in the Middle East. We express our absolute and decisive rejection to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.”
The 1947 UN Resolution creating Israel describes it repeatedly as “a Jewish state.” But the Arab states have never accepted that resolution and have since refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state because that would nullify their fictional claim to a “right of return” of not just the Palestinian refugees from 1948-49, but their progeny of some 5 million. (Israel’s population is about 8 million, of which about 6 million are Jewish. If 5 million Palestinian Muslims were brought in, Israel would be an Islamic state, not a Jewish state.)
Obama and Kerry have been performing the roles of Young Frankenstein and Eyegor, trying madly to animate a dead peace process. The Palestinians, meanwhile, have been doing their best to ensure that what was already dead stayed that way.
Last week Mr. Netanyahu called off further peace talks when Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced a new agreement on reconciliation between the two principal Palestinian factions: the PA, which he leads, and the Hamas terrorist organization. Netanyahu said the Hamas-PA agreement was “killing peace” and that it “essentially buried” the peace negotiations.
Hamas has been listed by our State Department as a terrorist organization since 1997. Its charter says, in part, “The purpose of HAMAS is to create an Islamic Palestinian state throughout Israel by eliminating the State of Israel through violent jihad.”
The Hamas-PA agreement is of considerable significance. Abbas had to know that the Israelis could not and would not ever negotiate with Hamas. By making the agreement, Abbas signaled that he didn’t want an agreement with Israel.
Hamas’s history has been consistent with its charter. For example, in 2008 Hamas rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip caused so many casualties among Israeli civilians that the Israelis made a military incursion into Gaza to quell the violence. The incursion, which lasted 22 days, not only resulted in the deaths of many Hamas operatives, it led to accusations of war crimes against Israel.
A UN investigation, led by South African Richard Goldstone, furthered the accusations. In 2011, Goldstone retracted his accusations against Israel while reconfirming his findings of war crimes by Hamas. Nevertheless, Israel suffered political damage from the accusations, which are still promoted by the Hamas-PA-Palestinian network.
By making the agreement with Hamas, Abbas may have hidden the fact that he cannot make an agreement on behalf of the Palestinians. Within the Palestinian communities in the Middle East and elsewhere there has been a political hardening since 2009. The perceived weakening of American support for Israel, as well as the more open support of Palestinian protests and the nascent boycott movement against Israel by European non-government organizations (NGOs) and by European nations directly, have caused Palestinians to become more rejectionist of Israeli compromises. The network of Palestinian NGOs has evolved to a rejectionist stance that is uniform among dozens if not hundreds of such groups. The NGOs, legitimately or otherwise, are the primary voice of the Palestinians outside of Abbas and the Arab states themselves.
Abbas has very little real power politically or ideologically. Without the consent of the Arab League states he cannot make a deal with Israel. Ideologically, he is seen as close to the Israelis which has been true only in his physical proximity to them in meetings. Now, with his agreement to reconcile with Israel’s declared Islamic terrorist enemy, he won’t have to worry about trying to even get their consent.
But the other effect of the Abbas-Hamas agreement won’t be as much to the Arabs’ and Abbas’s liking. Abbas has made it impossible for Obama and Kerry to blame Israel for the failure of the talks.
On April 8, two weeks before the Hamas-Abbas agreement came to light, Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the failure of the peace talks — which was already apparent — was mainly Israel’s fault because it hadn’t released more Palestinian terrorist prisoners. (The Israelis said they had done that in response to the Palestinians going back to the UN to renew their efforts to gain declared statehood.)
Kerry said, “The prisoners were not released by Israel on the day they were supposed to be released and then another day passed and another day, and then 700 units were approved in Jerusalem and then poof — that was sort of the moment,” referring to the Israelis building more apartments in Jerusalem.
That statement on the non-release of prisoners and the approval of housing units — even if included with Kerry’s later statement on the mistake the Israelis were making in asking that they be recognized as a Jewish state — is not enough to prove a pattern of Israeli responsibility for failure of the talks. But they are two more incidents in an Obama pattern that goes back at least four years.
Kerry’s reference to the 700 new apartments in Jerusalem is the link to follow. Obama’s outrage at Israel’s building more housing in Jerusalem and the West Bank was what led to the 2010 incident in which Obama met with Netanyahu in the White House briefly, presented him with 13 demands (demanding cessation of building more housing in what the Palestinians insist is their land and designed to create more confidence in Obama within the Palestinian power structure) and then abruptly left to have dinner with his family, leaving Netanyahu to consider the error of his ways. Obama reportedly told Netanyahu, “Let me know if there is anything new.”
Where Obama and Kerry go now is also pretty clear: elsewhere. Kerry is already talking in terms of continuing the peace talks, but there is no chance of any agreement in the foreseeable future. There will be more meetings — separate meetings — between our Diplomatic Dynamic Duo and Netanyahu and Abbas, but nothing will come of them. Kerry and Obama will try to revive their campaign to blame Israel and go on to greener diplomatic pastures where they still see a better chance of success. Like Ukraine, for example.