John Kerry’s most recent trip to the Middle East earned him such discouraging reviews in the local papers, not to mention receptions from Israeli politicians, that American officials have made their diplomatic displeasure known—diplomatically, of course.
Kerry spent last weekend in Cairo negotiating the latest ceasefire in missile exchanges between Hamas and Israel, but the Knesset rejected the plan outright as giving too much to Hamas and too little to them. They leaked their non-support through the media to avoid a diplomatic stand-off, and the media took off. The Times of Israel referred to the whole episode as “the betrayal,” and that’s only in the headline:
Leaked comments from unnamed senior government sources to Army Radio, Channel 2 and other Hebrew outlets have described the secretary as amateurish, incompetent, incapable of understanding the material he is dealing with — in short, a blithering fool.
But actually, it’s worse than that. What emerges from Kerry’s self-initiated ceasefire mission — Israel had already accepted the Egyptian ceasefire proposal; and nobody asked him to come out on a trip he prefaced with sneering remarks about Israel’s attempted “pinpoint” strikes on Hamas terror targets — is that Jerusalem now regards him as duplicitous and dangerous.
President Obama called Netanyahu on Sunday. He reminded the Israeli leader of all the various commitments to security, anti-terrorism, and minimal death and destruction by the United States, but told him that a humanitarian ceasefire has to come soon, according to Haaretz. The phone call was a good indicator of the stress the whole affair has placed on their relationship. The Washington crew made their concerns generally known—”blithering fool” is an insult that loses none of its offensive force in the trip across the ocean. The ambassador in Washington tried to smooth things over with a statement on Monday, after American officials made it clear they were thoroughly offended, according to the Jerusalem Post.
But there is no indication that the Israeli public disagreed with the assessment by their leadership. A political poll conducted by Netanyahu’s Likud party shows 86.5 percent of Israelis are not happy with the ceasefire, which began on Sunday for the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr.
The BBC took a quick jab at the plan:
After positive meetings on Saturday, the US feels the most likely diplomatic scenario now could be a gradual move towards a solution: a day of ceasefire at a time, building up until talks get going.
But for now, the US doesn’t know how long it will be negotiating.
And those watching from the outside don’t know how effective it will be.
And then added:
Any sign that a patchwork of truces would lead to more a sustainable ceasefire has been dashed for now.
Meanwhile, the IDF continues to search for and destroy the tunnels from Gaza, and the firing of missiles by both sides continues.