Our bumbling Secretary of State, John Kerry, took his clown act to the Trilateral Commission on Friday, and managed to outrage much of the civilized world by warning that Israel was on the verge of becoming an “apartheid state” if it didn’t give the Palestinians their own nation. (The un-civilized world, by contrast, absolutely loved Kerry’s remarks.)
The Daily Beast obtained a recording of Kerry’s speech, which included the following passage:
???A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative. Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens???or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state,??? Kerry told the group of senior officials and experts from the U.S., Western Europe, Russia, and Japan. ???Once you put that frame in your mind, that reality, which is the bottom line, you understand how imperative it is to get to the two-state solution, which both leaders, even yesterday, said they remain deeply committed to.???
So apartheid was option A… and what was option B again? The “capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state” gets destroyed? What does that mean? Given that in the same speech, Kerry threatened the Israelis with renewed Palestinian violence if they don’t get back to the negotiating table, maybe he’s trying to say option B is that the Jews get wiped out.
By the way, “renewed” Palestinian violence is a matter of degree. Those peace-loving, honorable negotiating partners fired nine rockets at Israeli civilians last week, injuring four people and prompting a retaliatory strike from the Israeli Air Force. Good thing for John Kerry he isn’t forced to stand where those rockets are coming down while he babbles about “apartheid.”
Also, maybe Kerry hasn’t been keeping up on the news before shooting his mouth off, but the reason Israel suspended those talks was a “unity agreement” between the Palestinian Authority and the terrorist group Hamas. As reported by Haaretz, the Israeli government pointedly refused to break off talks entirely, although there were elements in the Israeli government that wanted to do so. They suspended negotiations until they receive assurances that the new Hamas-infused Palestinian government doesn’t want to exterminate them:
A senior official said Israel wanted to see if a new Palestinian government that included Hamas would accept the Mideast Quartet’s conditions: recognition of Israel, setting aside of violence, and honoring of past agreements between Israel and the PA. Only after this question was answered would Israel decide whether to renew the talks or not, the official said.
The cabinet also reiterated its past decision to hold back on Israel’s scheduled May 1 transfer of customs duties it collects on the PA’s behalf from Palestinians returning to the West Bank. Other punitive steps were taken, including the barring of Palestinian banks from depositing money in Israeli banks.
During the meeting, several cabinet ministers proposed ending the peace talks once and for all, but Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Israel’s co-negotiator at the talks, insisted on only a suspension pending clarifications about the prospective Palestinian government.
The cabinet decision reads: “Israel will not conduct negotiations with a Palestinian government backed by Hamas, a terrorist organization that calls for Israel’s destruction.”
It would have been utterly absurd to continue negotiations after the Hamas accord, without formal assurances that the minimal conditions for good-faith negotiations had been met. A great deal of the “Mideast peace process” boils down to legitimizing terrorism: the terrorists cause enough mayhem to bring idiots like John Kerry into the picture, to insist that both sides have to make big concessions for peace, at which point yesterday’s blood-splattered murderer becomes today’s “negotiating partner.” Except no one really pretends that anyone but Israel has to make big concessions. They have to give away a strategically vital portion of their tiny country to people who almost never stop attacking them; the Palestinians are invited to consider the possibility of forming an exploratory commission to issue a report on the feasibility of maybe saying that Israel has a right to exist, provided it gets a lot smaller, fast.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t want Hamas to have any seats at the negotiating table, denouncing the Palestinian Authority accord in forceful terms and applying pressure against the PA to reverse their decision:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “Instead of choosing peace, Abu Mazen [Abbas] has formed an alliance with a murderous terrorist organization that calls for … Muslims to fight and kill Jews.”
He added: “Hamas has fired more than 10,000 missiles and rockets at Israeli territory and has not halted terrorist actions against Israel even for a minute. The agreement between Abu Mazen and Hamas was signed even as Israel is making efforts to advance the negotiations with the Palestinians.”
Netanyahu described the Fatah-Hamas unity pact as “the direct continuation of the Palestinians’ refusal to advance the negotiations. ??? Whoever chooses the terrorism of Hamas does not want peace.”
Netanyahu went on a media offensive on foreign TV shows, telling NBC-TV that he hoped Abbas reversed his decision to join forces with Hamas, and adding. “I will be there in the future if we have a partner who is committed to peace.”
Into that delicate situation wades the oafish John Kerry, using “apartheid” language that U.S. officials very rarely employ (according to some observers, no one at Kerry’s level has ever thrown the insult as Israel before.) And he did it right before Holocaust Remembrance Day. Did he not realize that was right around the corner, or does he just not care? Was he somehow unaware of how incendiary the use of the word “apartheid” would be? Or did he figure there was some kind of “what happens at the Trilateral Commission, stays at the Trilateral Commission” shield of insignificance around his comments?
Kerry also mumbled something about imposing his own “take it or leave it” peace plan if Israel doesn’t play ball. It’s all a bunch of posturing along the path of least resistance, a characteristically clumsy use of the Obama Administration’s “soft power” ideas against the only player in the Middle East that pays attention to such rhetoric. Shoving around a lawful and principled society is a lot easier than getting tough with terrorist murderers.
The State Department immediately went into damage-control mode, with spin settings dialed up to eleven:
@JohnKerry does not think and has never said Israel is an apartheid state. 2 nations, 2 peoples living peacefully needs 2 state solution
??? Jen Psaki (@statedeptspox) April 28, 2014
No, he said they risk becoming an apartheid state unless they do what he wants. Jen Psaki is the State Department spokeswoman who was last seen trying to scare Russia out of Ukraine with a Twitter hashtag. Maybe she should try creating a hashtag to convince the Palestinians to stop firing random rocket barrages at Israeli civilians, or to exclude the terrorists of Hamas from their government.
Update: The State Department needs to learn that when you crank a spin machine up to eleven, it tends to burn out pretty quickly. The air of sloppy hysteria surrounding State’s damage-control effort shows they know how badly Kerry screwed up here.
Benjamin Netanyahu isn’t the only one who thinks some brakes need to be applied to the “peace process” until the full measure of this new Hamas-Palestinian Authority unity government has been taken. In the United States, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) called for the suspension of foreign aid to the Palestinians until they have formally recognized Israel’s right to exist, and plans to introduce legislation to that effect this week:
The recent announcement of a Fatah-Hamas unity agreement brings both danger and opportunity to the peace process, and the next five weeks may prove critical.
Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with an entity that does not believe it should exist and that has used terrorist tactics to seek its end.
That being said, the new unity government has a chance to put itself on the record as clearly believing in the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, as Israel recognizes the right of a Palestinian state to exist. It should also declare an immediate and lasting ceasefire to enable negotiations.
If that is accomplished swiftly, the peace process can move forward with two willing partners.
In the absence of such a clear, unambiguous statement on the part of the newly unified Palestinian government, the United States should act to enforce the law and cut off aid to the Palestinian government until they recognize Israel’s right to exist.
That sounds like a more reasonable approach than backstabbing Israel with poorly thought-out insults at Trilateral Commission meetings.
Update: Fox News has some Republican response to Kerry’s comments – which, it is noted, the State Department has been trying to “contextualize” without explicitly denying that he made them:
“Reports that Secretary Kerry has suggested Israel is becoming an apartheid state are extremely disappointing,” House GOP Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., who is Jewish, said in a statement. “The use of the word apartheid has routinely been dismissed as both offensive and inaccurate, and Secretary Kerry’s use of it makes peace even harder to achieve.”
He urged Kerry to “apologize to the Israeli government and people.”
[…] Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also slammed Kerry over the reported remarks, made ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“These comments are outrageous and disappointing,” he said in a statement. “Incendiary name calling does not change the fundamental fact that Israel does not currently have a viable partner for peace. I urge Secretary Kerry and the administration to focus on pressing challenges in the Middle East such as ending the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria and preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon instead of pressuring Israel to make additional concessions to partners who have now chosen to align themselves with a terrorist group.”