Kerry’s 3 a.m. diplomacy is greeted with skepticism, scorn, ridicule

Israel/Palestine
on 47 Comments
Kerry and Netanyahu
Kerry and Netanyahu

Reviews are in on John Kerry’s latest round of shuttle diplomacy in Israel and Palestine, and they range from skepticism to downright ridicule. Even the New York Times and Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations doubt that the activity is productive, and the mood at the State Department briefing today was disbelief of Kerry’s stated optimism, almost to the point of asking what the Secretary is smoking.

Matt Lee of AP did another brilliant performance piece, more powerful than anything written: 

I just want to know, for the public, when the Secretary of State comes out and says there has been real progress he doesn’t do so in a vacuum. He does so in an atmosphere where there is not a single tangible, discernible sign of progress to the rest of the world, to anyone.

Is there a single tangible piece of publicly available information that would back up the claim that real progress has been made? Yes or no?…

[State spokesperson says Kerry believes in privacy of talks]

Right. Okay. So there isn’t anything you can point to to back up that statement?

Another reporter brought up Israel’s latest settlement expansions as an insult to the United States:

The Israelis greeted Secretary of State Kerry by announcing settlements, and in fact, they gave him a sendoff with the announcement of more settlements. Does the Secretary of State get really upset by the Israelis doing this?

Says the spokesperson: We’ve made our opinion of settlements clear…

There is an undertone in the commentary that Kerry is naive and Netanyahu is playing him, that at a time when he has better things to do, he is wasting his nights staying up till 3:30 with Netanyahu, as the Washington Post reports. Add in the fact that Kerry himself said today he was unaware of the latest leak showing that the U.S. bugged the European Union because he was too busy in the Middle East and– well this could be another embarrassment in the long list of embarrassments Israel has delivered to Washington. 

Writes Stephen Walt:

NYT: “Kerry Sees Progress in Efforts to Revive ME Peace Talks.” Also sees a leprechaun, a hobbit, and a big pink unicorn.

Here’s a wrapup:

The New York Times editorial board tries to breathe hope into the operation but it’s doubtful. “Secretary Kerry’s Quest,” as if he’s the man of La Mancha:

There is a sense of fatalism in Washington about Secretary of State John Kerry’s quest to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks….

The editorial repeatedly refers to settlements as a “death knell” to the two-state solution but of course never states that Israel should be sanctioned for the illegal activity.

The Washington Post is also setting the bar low, with a hint of scorn: 

The nonstop meetings have set off a frenzy of speculation in Israel, the West Bank and Jordan that Kerry may be able to broker a deal, if not for an immediate Israel-Palestinian meeting, at least for a confirmed date for talks to start. The rising expectations, however, have also increased the likely magnitude of perceived failure in the event Kerry does not succeed…

And reporter Karen DeYoung has some delicious reporting about the Secretary of State’s pandering. He stayed up till 3:30 in the morning after dinner with Netanyahu, which he termed a Seder. 

As they sat down for a private dinner Saturday night with Netanyahu’s team, Kerry and his aides appeared somber and exhausted…

“I want to thank you, John,” Netanyahu said to Kerry. “This looks like a Seder,” the ritual Jewish feast that marks the beginning of Passover.

“It is,” Kerry replied.

Jodi Rudoren and Michael Gordon in the New York Times say the talks are stuck where they’ve always been stuck. And they quote Dore Gold, the former Israeli ambassador, who was raised in New England, telling the Americans to forget about it.

Those involved refused to disclose details of the discussions, but the sticking points seem to be the same ones that have produced years of stalemate…

Ghassan Khatib, a former spokesman for the Palestinian government, said “progress” was “the diplomatic way of saying that it’s not working now but it’s not the end of the line, because it’s dangerous to say that it’s over.”…

“We’ve gone through seven Israeli prime ministers; we’ve gone through three American presidents, two Palestinian leaders — no one reached a permanent-status agreement,” Mr. Gold said. “Which leaves the question of why a negotiation would work now, without retooling it based on the lessons of the past.”

FYI, experts polled by the Institute for Middle East Understanding predicted all this last week. Diana Buttu raises the accountability issue that the NYT dodges: 

“Secretary Kerry’s efforts to restart the ‘peace process’ will invariably fail unless and until he and the Obama administration begin to hold Israel accountable for its ongoing colonization and occupation of the West Bank, and its siege and occupation of the Gaza Strip….Israelis seem to believe that they can perpetually subjugate another people, without any consequences. Regrettably, by providing Israel with almost unlimited and unconditional support, the United States has only fed into this belief.”

Yousef Munayyer says that the secretary’s reputation is now on the line, and Palestinians will be compelled to bolster him:

“John Kerry is on a fool’s errand….There is no doubt that Mahmoud Abbas will come under tremendous pressure to comply with Kerry’s requests for resuming negotiations so that Kerry’s months of work don’t seem like a waste of time.”

Noura Erakat urges all of us to consider the one-state apartheid reality:

“The reality on the ground is that Israel has left little of the putative Palestinian state to be salvaged…. It would do Secretary Kerry well to forego pointless negotiations in favor of an international summit to deal with the one-state, apartheid reality that Israel has forcibly imposed on the territories it controls between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea.”

It’s not just the left that’s telling Kerry to give up on a charade in which the U.S. has lost any power to effect a just outcome. Richard Haass at the behest of Conor Friedersdorf says we should tiptoe away from the Middle East, and Kerry is wasting his and the taxpayers’ time:

Virtually none of the preconditions for diplomatic success are in place…. So, part of what you have to do as a diplomat is to survey your opportunity cost against your prospects, and I would just say that there are considerable opportunity costs for focusing on the Middle East…. And I’m simply saying whether it’s the hours in the day for a secretary of state, or the resources of an administration, given everything that’s out there, in terms of opportunities and challenges, I don’t think that the argument right now — maybe at some other points — is to put massive amounts of calories into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

All the above comments were made or published before today’s State Department briefing at which Patrick Ventrell, director of the press office, experienced bastinado at the hands of the press corps. Some of this is delicious. A lengthy excerpt:

Q. why do you think that the statements issued by either the Palestinians or the Israeli side actually contradict the optimism that was stated in the words of the Secretary of State?

MR. VENTRELL: Well, I think you heard the Secretary talk about this in his press availability a little bit, in terms of there’ll be various statements made and things said in public, but his optimism is based on what’s being said in private and he’s going to continue and have the team continue to work on this.

QUESTION: And finally, if there is to be some sort of a peace summit between Abbas and Netanyahu, is it likely to take place there or here in Washington?

MR. VENTRELL: I just don’t want to make any predictions about next steps other than to say that some progress was made and the Secretary has his team in place continuing to work through the issues.

QUESTION: Would holding something like this, a peace conference here in Washington, a peace summit, would it give the United States more leverage or less leverage?

MR. VENTRELL: Again, I’m just not going to predict or preview what the next steps may be. The Secretary said he was prepared to return to the region in the near future if the conditions are right.

Okay.

QUESTION: I’m just curious.

MR. VENTRELL: Go ahead.

QUESTION: You will concede, I expect or I suspect –

MR. VENTRELL: You’re always trying to get me to concede something, but go ahead.

QUESTION: Well, I mean, there – what is the evidence for the – to back up the statement of the Secretary that there has been real progress? Is there anything that you can point to that is not a secret?

MR. VENTRELL: Again, the Secretary was very clear from the beginning of this process we’re not going to be getting into the day-to-day and the back-and-forth and what the –

QUESTION: Yeah. I just want to know, for the public, when the Secretary of State comes out and says there has been real progress –

MR. VENTRELL: I think the –

QUESTION: – he doesn’t do so in a vacuum.

MR. VENTRELL: Right.

QUESTION: He does so in an atmosphere where there is not a single tangible, discernible sign of progress to the rest of the world, to anyone.

MR. VENTRELL: Matt, the Secretary feels very strongly –

QUESTION: So I just want to know, is there a single tangible item that is – that you can point to that isn’t secret to back up the claim that there’s been real progress?

MR. VENTRELL: Matt, the Secretary believes very strongly in the integrity of the process. He feels strongly that keeping these negotiations private lends integrity to the process, and that some of the spoilers of things that can happen in the press of trading barbs or having exchanges through the press is deeply unhelpful to the potentiality to make progress here. And so we’re not going to read out the steps. We said we weren’t going to from the beginning. You all knew that’s how this process was going to go forward.

QUESTION: I understand.

MR. VENTRELL: And so the Secretary was very clear that he believes, based on what he’s seeing in his private discussions, that there’s been progress made, but obviously the judgments will be made about this in the future based on what progress is made.

QUESTION: But would you agree that there isn’t anything that you can point to as a sign of progress?

MR. VENTRELL: Again, that’s your characterization. My characterization of it is –

QUESTION: No, no, you’re pointing me to his comments.

MR. VENTRELL: Right.

QUESTION: His comments need to be backed up with some kind of fact. Now, it may very well be that any sign of progress – the reason that he’s saying that, is because there is actually a sign of progress that’s in secret. But I want to know if there’s any publicly available, tangible sign of – that would prove or that would back up the claim that real progress has been made.

MR. VENTRELL: As frustrating –

QUESTION: And you’re telling me no, right?

MR. VENTRELL: As frustrating as it is to you, Matt –

QUESTION: There isn’t anything you can point to –

MR. VENTRELL: As frustrating –

QUESTION: – that would show –

MR. VENTRELL: Can I finish?

QUESTION: – me or anyone else – I just want to know, yes or no? Is there a single tangible piece of publicly available information that would back up the claim that real progress has been made? Yes or no?

MR. VENTRELL: Matt, you do make a valid point, which is that – and what I will concede to you is that it can be frustrating that, through this process, not every piece of it is read out, of course, as we like to read out progress that is being made generally in our diplomacy. And that’s a real frustration. But given how intractable, how difficult, this problem has been for so many decades, the Secretary thinks there’s real value in keeping that private, and it is on his good word that progress is being made.

QUESTION: Right. Okay. So there isn’t anything you can point to to back up that statement?

MR. VENTRELL: I think we’ve done what we can on this, Matt.

QUESTION: No. All right. But I just wanted – because, listen, we went through this whole thing during the last – during the Bush Administration with Annapolis, being told every day that progress was being made, progress was being made, we can’t tell you about it; and now we’re being told – and that did not result in an agreement. And now we’re being told the same thing.

MR. VENTRELL: The Secretary is aware of the history.

QUESTION: Good.

MR. VENTRELL: And he’s aware of the precedent.

QUESTION: Good, because your colleague once said that she didn’t want to look through the rearview mirror, but I’m glad that –

MR. VENTRELL: I’m just saying the Secretary is aware of the history. He’s not naïve, and he’s very focused on working in good faith to make progress to getting these two sides back to the table…

The Israelis greeted Secretary of State Kerry by announcing settlements, and in fact, they gave him a sendoff with the announcement of more settlements. Does the Secretary of State get really upset by the Israelis doing this, and in fact, putting hurdles along the way in the and – along this process that he’s trying to relaunch?

MR. VENTRELL: Said, you know how we feel about settlements. I don’t need to tell you. We’ve said it repeatedly, and our position is the same.

QUESTION: Yes, but you say it repeatedly and we know – and it’s an admirable position, but what are you doing in terms of on the ground to stop the Israelis from doing these activities that, at the end of the day, will scuttle all peace efforts?

MR. VENTRELL: We consistently make our position clear on settlements.

Thanks to Adam and Donald Johnson.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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47 Responses

  1. just
    July 1, 2013, 10:05 pm

    That 6h dinner (Seder) made my eyes bug out. Bet they had fun, fun, fun til 0330.

    What a waste of time spent listening to each other spouting the SOS and filling their gullets.

    Matt Lee is pretty darn awesome. Hope he doesn’t get yanked for asking the right questions.

  2. Citizen
    July 1, 2013, 10:29 pm

    Can my country, USA, be any weaker?
    It’s so depressing.
    The lone superpower is ruled by Israel First money. They sure know Captain America’s Achilles heel. Cash. I can’t help but think about Mayer Rotshchild, who said:

    “Let me issue and control a nation’s money and I care not who writes the laws.” Mayer Amschel Rothschild.

    • Elliot
      July 2, 2013, 4:37 pm

      “Let me issue and control a nation’s money and I care not who writes the laws.” Mayer Amschel Rothschild.

      The novelist Hilary Mantel in her historical fiction of Thomas Cromwell attributes a similar observation to him. Per her, Cromwell figured out that money was more decisive than political power and therefore, in reality, he England, not King Henry VIII.

      • American
        July 2, 2013, 5:24 pm

        Elliot says:
        July 2, 2013 at 4:37 pm

        “Let me issue and control a nation’s money and I care not who writes the laws.” Mayer Amschel Rothschild.>>>>

        Humm…..how about a rousing game of paper, bullets, scissors with them.

      • Citizen
        July 2, 2013, 8:47 pm

        It’s even worse these days, what’a left of the US economy has been turned into a securities industry. Little actual production, lots into Wall St “creativity.”

    • tokyobk
      July 2, 2013, 11:52 pm

      Yes, that is a famous quote from 1838.

      Except MR died in 1812.

      They have not yet done the math yet on “Rense” and “Wake up from your slumber” and other sites and I suspect its too juicy to give up.

      Now, those who need this to be true will say it was actually a quote from not the founder but of his son but there is no evidence for that at all.

      The earliest citation of this quote is 1935.

      This is mud dragged in from jewwatch.com.

      • Walker
        July 3, 2013, 8:21 am

        This indeed sounds like s spurious quote. I was about to type “good catch”, but then I thought I’d first confirm it.

        This quote is indeed found on jewwatch.com, but it’s also in The Economist’s Schumpter blog. I also found it quoted here, footnoted that the source is the book “The Rothchilds, a Family History” by Frederic Morton (authors name misspelled in the article). I haven’t confirmed if it’s actually in that book or not.

        What evidence do you have that it’s bogus? Can you provide a link?

      • Annie Robbins
        July 3, 2013, 9:39 am

        walker, The Economist’s Schumpter blog says Taken from The Economist’s “Book of Business Quotations” and links:

        link to store.economist.com

        there are also 1.3 million google results for that quote the top one being:

        link to themoneymasters.com they have a little movie called ‘the secret of oz’ btw link to themoneymasters.com

        anyway, i too am curious where the source of the alleged 1938 origin of the quote comes from.

  3. Inanna
    July 1, 2013, 10:30 pm

    When even your own propaganda organs don’t believe your propaganda and won’t sell it, maybe it’s time to change tactics. Or don’t raise expectations about something so hopeless. (Sad to see the continued incompetence of our DoS who don’t seem to understand the diplomacy game and end up looking like idiots).

    I’ve been thinking lately that the US doesn’t have to pressure Israel to do anything. Maybe the US should just withdraw support. Ignore Israel. Abstain at the UN. No visits, no attention. Probably the worst thing you could do for such a narcissistic place and its Prime Minister.

    A girl can dream, right?

    • Citizen
      July 1, 2013, 10:36 pm

      @ Inanna
      You are perceptive. That’s exactly what the US should do. Simply withdraw, cut off all aid to Israel. Tell that to all the US political leaders, who need AIPAC $$, or at least don’t want AIPAC $ to go their competitor.

      This has been going on since Truman. No ambitious American politican has been able to circumvent it except Ike.

    • just
      July 1, 2013, 10:46 pm

      It’s a good dream.

      I’d prefer a loud & sustained public rebuke, but that doesn’t look at all likely. ;(

    • American
      July 2, 2013, 1:25 am

      ‘Inanna says:
      July 1, 2013 at 10:30 pm

      When even your own propaganda organs don’t believe your propaganda and won’t sell it, maybe it’s time to change tactics. >>>>

      yea forget wasting time on Israel, let’s go straight to the mattresses and start a movement to have the US hauled before the ICC for aiding and abetting Israeli violations of international law.
      If we started a petition to the UN and ICC and put specific US politicians names on it on we might could shake up the hornets nest……..LOL
      (I am actually serious.)

    • piotr
      July 2, 2013, 1:48 am

      Given parameters in which Kerry has to operate, it seems that the only way he can pressure Israel is by using sleep deprivation. Next session with Prime Minister should end at noon on the following day, including slapping or shaking any time he tries to wink off. Unfortunately, according to my trustworthy but undisclosed sources, both Kerry and Netanyahu were napping during the last session, so I would not have high hopes on that tactic either.

  4. DICKERSON3870
    July 1, 2013, 11:22 pm

    RE: “Matt, the Secretary believes very strongly in the integrity of the process.” ~ State Dept. spokesperson

    MY SNARK:
    The Secretary believes in “the integrity of the process”!
    The Secretary strongly believes in “the integrity of the process”!
    The Secretary very strongly believes in “the integrity of the process”!
    Ergo, peace is surely at hand! [LOL]
    Long live “the integrity of the process”!

    P.S. ALSO SEE: “Kerry and Chutzpah”, by Uri Avnery, CounterPunch, 6/28/13
    LINK – link to counterpunch.org

  5. Annie Robbins
    July 1, 2013, 11:56 pm

    ok, well nobody asked me and i know i sound like a broken record but here’s what i get out of this trip:

    link to nytimes.com

    Mr. Kerry stressed that he was not setting a firm deadline for resuming peace talks, but repeated his argument that time was an enemy of his push for a comprehensive agreement and stressed the importance of making headway before the United Nations General Assembly resumes its debate over the Middle East in September.
    ……
    The Palestinians have repeatedly set and extended deadlines for Mr. Kerry’s efforts, with a threat that they would leverage the observer-state status they won in the United Nations last fall to seek to prosecute claims against Israel in the International Criminal Court.

    link to cnn.com

    Netanyahu is concerned the Palestinians could use the U.N. session for further moves on statehood, including seeking membership in the International Criminal Court to take action against Israel. The Obama administration has threatened to cut off aid to the Palestinians if they take that route.

    so let the US cut off funds!

    link to counterpunch.org

    Ramallah is being flooded with threats this month from Middle East envoy, Tony Blair, US Secretary of State, John Kerry, now on his 5th visit to the Middle East in as many months, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and reportedly, several others. The message for Mahmoud Abbas is that the Palestinian Authority risks a cut-off of funds and US dis-engagement from any “peace process” as well as the scrapping of the rumored “mega economic & development package” which Kerry aids are currently finalizing, if Palestine goes anywhere near the International Criminal Court.

    the palestinians are going to the ICC is september and all kerry is trying to do is buy time and get them to stop. he can’t budge israel because he’s unwilling to use any leverage.

    • Citizen
      July 2, 2013, 9:32 pm

      Yeah, it’s amazing to me that the US will not use any leverage to get Israel to stop its illegal settlements as a condition to peace talks, when Israel is the biggest beneficsry of US aid in all US history. Anybody else agree?

      • Hostage
        July 3, 2013, 3:31 pm

        Yeah, it’s amazing to me that the US will not use any leverage to get Israel to stop its illegal settlements as a condition to peace talks, when Israel is the biggest beneficsry of US aid in all US history. Anybody else agree?

        I’ve commented elsewhere that the Clinton era Mitchell report and the Bush era Quartet Road Map did exactly that. They both called for removal outposts and the cessation of all settlement construction, including so-called “natural growth”. They were both endorsed and formally adopted by the UN Security Council (see resolution 1515).

        I’ve also pointed out that the only truly astonishing revelation contained in the Palestine Papers, was when Obama’s Special Envoy, Mitchell himself, said “I’m begging of you” (to forget the official Quartet and UN terms of reference for the final status negotiations that he helped author in 2001) and claimed they did not reflect binding policy:

        George Mitchell: The reality is: No negotiations is not in your interest. So we are to come up with a statement to give you a ladder to climb down on this issue – just like you asked a week ago. Now you are arguing over the color of the ladder. And you are drawing unfounded inferences…

        Again I tell you that President Obama does not accept prior decisions by Bush. Don’t use this because it can hurt you. Countries are bound by agreements – not discussions or statements.

        Erekat: But this was an agreement with Sec. Rice.

        (later)

        Schwartz: It is not legally binding – not an agreement.

        Erekat: For God’s sake, she said to put it on the record. It was the basis for the maps.

        link to transparency.aljazeera.net

      • Sibiriak
        July 3, 2013, 3:37 pm

        Hostage, interesting points. But is “calling for” the
        the cessation of all settlement construction really the same as “using leverage” to make it happen?

      • Hostage
        July 3, 2013, 5:48 pm

        Hostage, interesting points. But is “calling for” the
        the cessation of all settlement construction really the same as “using leverage” to make it happen?

        Yes, I think so in this particular case. The ICJ has repeatedly held that members have a treaty obligation to accept the decisions of the Security Council and carry them out in accordance with Articles 24 and 25 of the UN Charter. So the USA helped transform the Quartet Road Map into a legally binding obligation when it secured its adoption by the other members of the Security Council.

  6. W.Jones
    July 2, 2013, 12:02 am

    I don’t know what you guys are all worried about. Everybody knows that it’s Palestinian intransigence that’s the problem and settlements are just an excuse. The US has been saying for a long time that unilateral moves like the Palestinian steps towards the United Nations are counterproductive to the peace process. Now Kerry has succeeded in getting the Palestinian Authority to abandon their initiative to join the ICC to gain protection under international law for Palestinians. It’s a dramatic accomplishment that has stopped Palestinian unilateralism aimed at protecting their rights. So now that the real obstacles-the Palestinian ones- are gone, full steam ahead to “peace.” I am sure we will be there by breakfast, boys. The proof about that will be in the porridge.

    Lolzzzz…

    • Annie Robbins
      July 2, 2013, 12:19 am

      Now Kerry has succeeded in getting the Palestinian Authority to abandon their initiative to join the ICC

      WJ, do you have a link to confirm this. harry made this claim the other day to which you responded ‘good comment’ but i debunked it here:

      link to mondoweiss.net

      you may be right, but thus far i have not heard abbas has agreed to extend holding off when the UNGA resumes in september. he agreed to hold off til ..about a week ago. if they have extended it again..that would be news. my hunch is they have not.

      • Hostage
        July 2, 2013, 3:22 am

        FWIW, the Palestinians can join the ICC at any time without regard to whether or not the General Assembly is in session. That assumes, of course, that they can afford to pay the membership dues, i.e. See “PA financial crisis could be obstacle to joining int’l bodies”. link to maannews.net

        There are a number of legal experts who are still pressing for a vote in the ICC Assembly of State Parties on the status of the 2009 Palestinian declaration accepting the Court’s jurisdiction. All of the ICC member states have agreed that a non-member state can accept the Court’s jurisdiction. That is not a matter that is up to the Prosecutor to decide.

        What’s happening right now, is that the Prosecutors are claiming that they lack the statutory authority to decide whether Palestine is a state or not, but they are nonetheless acting as gatekeepers on that very question and pretending that Palestine has to join the Court before they can act on a prospective basis going forward. On the contrary, the Rome Statute envisions the Court coming to the aid of failed states whose national governments and judicial systems have collapsed or are non-existent as a result of armed conflicts – and they do not have to become dues paying member states.

        The General Assembly resolution was based upon that body’s acknowledgment and acceptance of the 1988 Palestinian unilateral declaration of independence. So, according to the General assembly, Palestine was a widely recognized state capable of making the 2009 declaration on the basis of its full membership in other international organizations.

      • Annie Robbins
        July 2, 2013, 10:51 am

        FWIW, the Palestinians can join the ICC at any time without regard to whether or not the General Assembly is in session.

        thank you for your patience explaining that again hostage. even if palestinians are totally broke i’d imagine someone would pay their membership costs if they were serious about joining today.

        and although they can join now if they want, i sort of imagined they’ve signaled a window to kerry/(israel) he’s got til september to get something out of israel (2S proposal) which will not happen.

      • Hostage
        July 2, 2013, 11:25 am

        even if palestinians are totally broke i’d imagine someone would pay their membership costs if they were serious about joining today.

        Israel has crippled the economy and none of the donor countries are paying what they’ve pledged to keep the pyramid scheme of political patronage that substitutes for an economy running. I’m pretty sure that joining the Court, versus simply filing another article 12(3) declaration and complaint is pretty low on their todo list.

        Afghanistan deposited its instrument of ratification to the Rome Statute on 10 February 2003. It hasn’t gotten much bang for its bucks out of the Prosecutors since then.

      • Rusty Pipes
        July 2, 2013, 12:21 pm

        Or is Kerry warning Palestinians to stay away from the briar patch? Kerry is going above and beyond what the major donors claim would make them happy. But come September, the clock runs out and it will be apparent to everyone that Netanyahu is the one who let it run out. Abbas can then go to the ICC, the US can carry through on its threat to cut off aid (which will make the Democrats’ donors happy — but some other countries could fill in the financial gap) and Palestine could start enforcing international law against Israel. But Kerry cannot be faulted then by the donors for at least giving it the old college try.

  7. Hostage
    July 2, 2013, 2:45 am

    The New York Times editorial board tries to breathe hope into the operation but it’s doubtful.

    Well that didn’t last long. The Zionist paper of record is now trumpeting the notion that a final settlement of the Israeli Palestinian conflict would be an insignificant achievement even if it did happen and that things are worse in Egypt, Syria, & etc. See Mideast Chaos Grows as U.S. Focuses on Israel:

    In Damascus, the Syrian government’s forces are digging in against rebels in a bloody civil war that is swiftly approaching the grim milestone of 100,000 dead. In Cairo, an angry tide of protesters again threatens an Egyptian president.

    At the same time, in tranquil Tel Aviv, Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up a busy round of shuttle diplomacy, laboring to revive a three-decade-old attempt at peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. He insisted on Sunday that he had made “real progress.”

    Mr. Kerry’s efforts raise questions about the Obama administration’s priorities at a time of renewed regional unrest.

    The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, once a stark symbol and source of grievance in the Arab world, is now almost a sideshow in a Middle East consumed by sectarian strife, economic misery and, in Egypt, a democratically elected leader fighting for legitimacy with many of his people.

    “The moment for this kind of diplomacy has passed,” said Robert Blecher, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Program of the International Crisis Group. “He’s working with actors who have acted in this movie before, and the script is built around the same elements. But the theater is new; the region is a completely different place today.”

    Administration officials no longer argue, as they did early in President Obama’s first term, that ending the Israeli occupation and creating a Palestinian state is the key to improving the standing of the United States in the Middle East. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is now just one headache among a multitude.

    - and more like that. link to nytimes.com

    • Annie Robbins
      July 2, 2013, 10:41 am

      hostage, i read that article earlier today and here’s what jumped out at me

      “You don’t have instability between the Israelis and Palestinians right now,” said Dennis B. Ross, a former senior adviser to Mr. Obama on the Middle East. “But if you don’t act, there’s a risk that the Palestinian Authority will collapse, leaving a vacuum. And if we know one thing about vacuums in the Middle East, they are never filled with good things.”

      look see, no instability! he sort of glosses over the (presumed) fact it would collapse because the US has threatened to stop funding it.

      “I think both sides look at what’s happening in the region right now and think, ‘Maybe we’re better off putting ourselves in a more stable situation with each other,’ ” said a senior Western diplomat who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of his involvement in what Mr. Kerry has demanded be confidential discussions.

      both sides, being the US and israel, think ‘economic peace’ is the best solution for right now!

  8. American
    July 2, 2013, 2:51 am

    More Hass and Jane Harman …..Someone remind little Ms Israel that congress has a 90% *disapproval rating*……283,500,000 million of we 315,000,000 million obvously disapprove of what congress ‘cares about’……congress doesnt care about Americans and we dont care about Israel.

    Hass: What I think we’re seeing is actually the return of strategy. And we’re seeing something of a corrective. The United States has allowed its foreign policy to be distorted by the greater Middle East. next year, November 2014, we’re going to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of the end of the Cold War, and it’ll be on 11/09/2014. And if anyone had predicted that the United States in this quarter century, its principle investments in the world, would be the greater Middle East, and this would be where upwards of over 3 million Americans served, if you add up the two Iraq Wars and the Afghan War, and if you add up the total cost, it would have been inconceivable.”

    Haass: “Part of the problem that the neocons to some extent have wrought is when you overreach, and you try to remake other societies in the way we did in Iraq — and it wasn’t just the neocons, it was also Barack Obama. We tripled U.S. force levels in Afghanistan. This is one of those issues that crosses political lines, the parties don’t always line up neatly, you’ve got people on the left and people on the right who favor, say, doing lots of things in Syria.”

    Harman: “And what was missing from the last panel was any real conversation about Israel. And I want to bring it up right now, because it’s something Congress cares about. Congress focuses on that, it’s one of the only things Congress supports on a bipartisan basis.”

    Haass: “We’ve got restore the foundations of American power. If we don’t have that right, we won’t have the resources to deal with a lot of the external challenges, if we don’t restore the foundations of our power, and that deals with everything from the economy, to our schools, to our infrastructure and immigration.”

  9. Erasmus
    July 2, 2013, 6:02 am

    …. Secretary has his team in place continuing to work through the issues.

    Does anybody know, WHO his left-behind team consists of????

    I’d be interested to know.

    Is Dennis Ross also among them?

  10. Citizen
    July 2, 2013, 6:45 am

    “…it’s one of the only things Congress supports on a bipartisan basis.”
    Israel may be the only thing Congress supports (consistently) on a bipartisan basis.
    The irony is if you asked most Americans, most of whom disdain Congress, to make a top 20 list of things, problems they want Congress to fix, Israel would not be on anybody’s list. Congress exhibits no spirit of “We’re all in this together, E Pluribus Unum”–except when it comes to one tiny foreign country. For that tiny country, Congress always puts Dick & Jane’s money where Congress’s mouth is.

  11. amigo
    July 2, 2013, 9:30 am

    “The decision to award one of the world’s top accolades to a president less than nine months into his first term, who has yet to score a major foreign policy success, comes as a major surprise.

    The Norwegian Nobel Committee praised Mr Obama for ‘his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples’.

    ‘Very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future,’ the committee said in a citation.

    In a speech in Prague in April, Mr Obama declared: ‘So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.’”

    link link to rte.ie

    Give it back Obama.You shame the award and the institution.

  12. Ramzi Jaber
    July 2, 2013, 11:03 am

    Kerry’s efforts are valiant and very appreciated but alas they are in vain because the zionist regime does NOT want peace, they just want to keep the Palestine they stole.

    Getting to 2SS is really easy and quick: Netanyahoo just has to declare that zionist regime decided to withdraw from 1967 Palestine starting NOW, that they set a 3-month timeline to do that in coordination with the PA, that they are ready to IMMEDIATELY vote in the UN to support Palestine as a fully-fledged independent state, and that close coordination on all joint matters of interest will start with the PA NOW.

    But of course, the criminal zionist regime and the colonialist racists want to keep all the land.

    This leaves Kerry/Obama with one path if they TRULY want to go down in history as the ones who solved the Palestine-Israel issue: tell the zionist regime that they support all UN agreements on resolving the Palestine-Israel issue and that they expect them to be fully implemented IMMEDIATELY otherwise no money, no UN support, no political cover, no billions a year, no weapons. This will solve it right away.

    Now of course none of the above will happen so the realities on the ground will formalize what is already happening, 1S1P1V.

  13. seafoid
    July 2, 2013, 1:07 pm


    But I just wanted – because, listen, we went through this whole thing during the last – during the Bush Administration with Annapolis, being told every day that progress was being made, progress was being made, we can’t tell you about it; and now we’re being told – and that did not result in an agreement. And now we’re being told the same thing.”

    Probably the most important thing in the whole sequence. Jews have to wake up- you can’t keep selling this crap to the goys , that you are interested in peace when Israel has clearly decided to choose apartheid because it is easier than standing up to the settlers and their funders stateside.

    My dad might have been more sympathetic to Israel because he saw the Shoah on TV or whatever. My daughter sees Cast Lead. It’s a massive difference.

    Don’t come whining to us when TSHTF.
    Maybe it can all be fixed with some tikkun olam and an op ed from Rabbi Lionel Blue , I don’t think.

  14. bijou
    July 2, 2013, 3:51 pm

    What is happening on the ground is not 1S1P1V at all.

    What is happening on the ground is colonialism, ethnic cleansing, and sociocide. Don’t delude yourself that anything good will come out of it without some serious shocks being exerted on the status quo system.

  15. tidings
    July 2, 2013, 3:53 pm

    And who can dispute The New York Times: link to nytimes.com

  16. Citizen
    July 2, 2013, 5:18 pm

    Obama has no notion of what’s happening to him or the USA. Axlerod does, and his agenda is personal greed, power, and then Israel First.

  17. Mayhem
    July 2, 2013, 10:05 pm

    Unless we see the emergence of a more pragmatic Palestinian leadership, the conflict will continue

    I go back and read a piece that said this almost 2 years ago at link to theaustralian.com.au) and one can see that nothing has changed.
    As pointed out there the Palestinian leaders throughout the history of this conflict have been “bad losers”. In other conflicts one side triumphs, the victor takes the spoils and the vanquished move on. Not in this conflict though, because the losers cannot accept defeat and they keep on wanting to get rid of Israel. The support the world gives the Palestinian cause only helps to prolong the conflict.

    • Citizen
      July 3, 2013, 6:41 am

      “In other conflicts one side triumphs, the victor takes the spoils and the vanquished move on.”

      Name a few of those “other conflicts” so we can see if they are or were analogous to the I-P conflict situation. You mean the Boers?

      • ritzl
        July 3, 2013, 8:21 am

        No Citizen, Mayhem means Roman-era Jews, but doesn’t understand that s/he means that, or can’t resolve his/her comment with that connection to current events and therefore conveniently begins history sometime after the Roman “victory.”

        If Mayhem was consistent in the application of his/her own rule(s), either Israel has NO rationale to exist in the modern day, or Palestinians have the exact same right (in perpetuity) to return as “returning” Jews.

        But, alas, the Mayhems of the world are not consistent in the application of their own rules. They’re strictly of the “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine” mindset (which, ironically, seems to be a rule as well).

      • Shmuel
        July 3, 2013, 8:41 am

        They’re strictly of the “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine” mindset (which, ironically, seems to be a rule as well).

        Avot 5, 9: “One who says … ‘What is yours is mine, and what is mine is mine’ is wicked.”

      • ritzl
        July 3, 2013, 11:30 am

        Thanks Shmuel. I learn a lot from you, especially in the “not knowing what I don’t know” department.

    • Walker
      July 3, 2013, 8:47 am

      Citizen asks an excellent question. There have been few if any conflicts where international law and opinion have come down so firmly on one side as they have for the Palestinians. What conflict is analogous? Did history eventually side with Italy regarding its conquest of Ethiopia, condemned by the League of Nations? Did Saddam get to keep Kuwait? If you imagine that the world’s dislike of Israel is going to dispel before it changes its ways, you are badly mistaken.

    • mikeo
      July 3, 2013, 10:42 am

      “As pointed out there the Palestinian leaders throughout the history of this conflict have been “bad losers”. In other conflicts one side triumphs, the victor takes the spoils and the vanquished move on. Not in this conflict though, because the losers cannot accept defeat and they keep on wanting to get rid of Israel. The support the world gives the Palestinian cause only helps to prolong the conflict.”

      The world is “Red in Tooth and Claw” and the losers just have to put up with it…

      Unfortunately for Israel the demographics and the waning geopolitical influence of the USA – their only supporter in the global sphere – does not bode well over the long term. Current realities mean Israel will never be able to exterminate the Palestinians as the Native Americans or Arawaks were exterminated. This ultimately leads to the conclusion that Israel is untenable over the long-term with an exodus to the US likely – as allegedly predicted by the CIA.

      link to digitaljournal.com

      The likely reversal of Israeli Hasbara’s hold on the narrative after this plays out means few tears are likely to be shed…

    • Hostage
      July 3, 2013, 3:05 pm

      I go back and read a piece that said this almost 2 years ago at link to theaustralian.com.au) and one can see that nothing has changed.

      Well something has obviously changed if the Australian government and the mainstream media there are still back-peddling on the determination made by the Chairman of the General Assembly Ad Hoc Committee for Palestine, Dr. H. V. Evatt (Australia), in 1948. He and the majority of representatives of other delegations held that both the Jewish and Arab communities of Palestine were completely ready for immediate emancipation from the British Mandate and independent statehood.

      FYI, “The Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples” was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 14 December 1960. It advised that inadequacy of political, economic, social or educational preparedness can never serve as a pretext for delaying independence as suggested by the newspaper article you cited. The declaration was adopted despite the fact that 3 of the permanent members of the Security Council still had colonial possessions and promised to veto similar measures if they were introduced in that organ. Today, the principles contained in the declaration are viewed by the International Court of Justice as compelling law (jus cogens). link to untreaty.un.org

      Unless we see the emergence of a more pragmatic Palestinian leadership, the conflict will continue

      I’d rather go back and review the official conclusions of the international panel of experts who served on the Sharm El-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee in 2001. Their findings, also known as “The Mitchell Report”, were fully incorporated in the Middle East Quartet’s Road Map, which was adopted in-turn by both the Security Council and General Assembly:

      PHASE 1

      SETTLEMENTS
      • GOI [Government of Israel] immediately dismantles settlement outposts erected since March 2001.
      • Consistent with the Mitchell Report, GOI freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements).

      link to avalon.law.yale.edu

      Those of us familiar with Israel’s Levy Commission report know perfectly well where the fault lies in the area of any lack of “flexibility” on that particular issue.

      The Mitchell report noted that the Palestinians could only be expected to drop their belligerent claims and begin serious negotiations “subsequent” to the Israeli withdrawal and termination of the expansion of the illegal Israeli settlements:

      The Fourth Geneva Convention
      During the June War of 1967, Israeli armed forces occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, as well as the Syrian Golan Heights and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. UN Security Council Resolution 242, passed in 1968, restated the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and applied this international principle specifically to the Israeli occupation of Arab territory. Since then, all serious efforts to end the Israeli-Arab conflict have depended on implementation of this resolution requiring the Israeli withdrawal from Arab territory acquired by force and the subsequent termination of all states of belligerency.

      The Committee’s recommendations are in line with the Convention, and appear directly linked to the Convention’s application. Israel’s settlement policy, for example, is “illegal under international law” [not merely "unhelpful"] precisely because of the application of Article 49 of the Convention which prohibits the transfer of an Occupying Power’s civilian population into the territory it occupies.

      CONCLUSION
      Israel’s emphasis on security considerations alone, while taken very seriously by the Palestinians, cannot dictate the course of peace talks or attempts to end the current crisis. The PNA has repeatedly expressed its desire to resume security cooperation with Israel within the context of those elements necessary to make such cooperation sustainable. The Committee has correctly identified that security cooperation is not sustainable without meaningful political negotiations and that such negotiations cannot exist while Israel continues to colonise the territory from which it is ostensibly negotiating a withdrawal.

      – See pdf file pages 65-68 link to consilium.europa.eu

  18. Kathleen
    July 3, 2013, 9:57 am

    Thanks. Noura Erakat nails it.

  19. yonah fredman
    July 3, 2013, 3:43 pm

    The public nature of John Kerry’s diplomacy until now was bound to attract derision. Anyone who bets on a peace deal between Israel and Palestine would require long odds to make their bet worthwhile. Yet I do not deride Kerry for what he has done. 1. Kerry will be dealing with Israel and Netanyahu for the next few years. Why not test Netanyahu’s “boundaries” on an initial negotiation. He should know where Netanyahu stands and where Abbas stands and the only way to find that is to test it out and the best way to test it out was probably this public shuttle diplomacy. 2. The time for the public phase is over and private secret talks are the logical way forward. I do not predict success for these talks, but I think Kerry is smart enough to know the situation and besides swinging for the fences, he needs to know the basic starting point of the Netanyahu Abbas gap.

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