Scarlett Johansson sure gets attention! Why else would John Kerry say one line about boycotts contributing to Israel’s de-legitimization yesterday, but for the attention that her support for settlements has gotten. And now Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is disturbed that Kerry even referred to the movement.
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) February 2, 2014
Oh and boycott makes Palestinians intransigent:
Attempts to impose boycott on Israel are immoral & unjust; cause Palestinians to adhere to their intransigent positions and push peace away
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) February 2, 2014
Someone on Netanyahu’s twitter feed says he’s shooting the messenger. What did Kerry say? From John Kerry’s remarks at the Munich Security Conference, yesterday. Hot words in bold:
For Israel, the stakes are also enormously high. Do they want a failure that then begs whatever may come in the form of a response from disappointed Palestinians and the Arab community? What happens to the Arab Peace Initiative if this fails? Does it disappear? What happens for Israel’s capacity to be the Israel it is today – a democratic state with the particular special Jewish character that is a central part of the narrative and of the future? What happens to that when you have a bi-national structure and people demanding rights on different terms?
So I think if you – and I’m only just scratching the surface in talking about the possibilities, and I’ve learned not to go too deep in them because it gets misinterpreted that I’m somehow suggesting, “Do this or else,” or something. I’m not. We all have a powerful, powerful interest in resolving this conflict. Everywhere I go in the world, wherever I go – I promise you, no exaggeration, the Far East, Africa, Latin America – one of the first questions out of the mouths of a foreign minister or a prime minister or a president is, “Can’t you guys do something to help bring an end to this conflict between Palestinians and Israelis?” Indonesia – people care about it because it’s become either in some places an excuse or in other places an organizing principle for efforts that can be very troubling in certain places. I believe that – and you see for Israel there’s an increasing de-legitimization campaign that has been building up. People are very sensitive to it. There are talk of boycotts and other kinds of things. Are we all going to be better with all of that?
So I am not going to sit here and give you a measure of optimism, but I will give you a full measure of commitment..
Kerry also warned about another intifada, in so many words:
[T]oday’s status quo absolutely, to a certainty, I promise you 100 percent, cannot be maintained. It’s not sustainable. It’s illusionary. There’s a momentary prosperity, there’s a momentary peace. Last year, not one Israeli was killed by a Palestinian from the West Bank. This year, unfortunately, there’s been an uptick in some violence. But the fact is the status quo will change if there is failure. So everybody has a stake in trying to find the pathway to success.
The Associated Press says that some of Netanyahu’s ministers are more enraged about the comments. This is typical of Israeli officials when they perceive they’re being abandoned, they lash out. Kerry is deemed “insufferable.”
Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party, called Kerry’s comments “offensive, unfair and insufferable.”
“You can’t expect the state of Israel to conduct negotiations with a gun pointed to its head,” he said.
Economics Minister Naftali Bennett, from the religious, pro-settler Jewish Home party, said all “the advice givers” should know that Israel will not abandon its land because of economic threats.
“We expect our friends around the world to stand beside us, against anti-Semitic boycott efforts targeting Israel, and not for them to be their amplifier,” said Bennett, a fierce critic of the Kerry-led talks. “Only security will bring economic stability, he said.
Tzipi Livni, Israel’s chief negotiator, came to Kerry’s defense, saying he was merely expressing concern for Israel’s future.
Defense Minister Danny Danon likes the gun metaphor too, and calls Kerry’s remarks an “ultimatum”! JPost:
“We respect the [US] secretary of state but we will not negotiate with a gun put to our head,” Danon said.
Danon called Kerry’s words an “ultimatum”, and said that true friends do not set ultimatums.
AP says that the State Department is trying to walk it back some:
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Kerry’s only reference to a boycott was a description of actions undertaken by others that he has always opposed.