US Secretary of State John Kerry, obviously wiser than all the leaders of Israel as well as every secretary of state who preceded him, is now overseeing the resolution of the longest-running conflict on earth – the conflict between Arabs and Jews. And he and the Obama administration appear quite certain that peace is just around the corner.
This unparalleled arrogance is nothing new. The Obama administration has repeatedly strong-armed Israel from the start, perpetuating the myth, believed by many European countries, that Israel takes unnecessary actions that harm the prospects of peace with the “oppressed” Palestinians. Obama’s public condemnation of Israel as one of his first actions as president rapidly sent his entire first term down the wrong path for American supporters of Israel (which happen to be most Americans). With every word he spoke, he seemed to place all blame for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict squarely on Israel’s shoulders, all the while ignoring the racist incitement, corruption and hypocrisy from Palestinian leaders in the West Bank.
In March 2013, however, it almost seemed as if Obama had turned a new page with Israel, visiting for the first time and delivering a rousing speech in support of the Jewish state. But alas, with John Kerry as secretary of state, it seems any improvement was fleeting and the administration is back to its old tricks: Israel concedes, but not the Palestinians.
What has Israel done to restart peace talks? In addition to setting no preconditions, when the Obama administration wanted a settlement freeze, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu conceded.
The response? The Palestinians still refused to come to the negotiating table and blamed Israel for not extending the settlement freeze.
When Obama pressured Israel to negotiate with Hamas for a cease-fire during Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel bit its tongue and negotiated – even taking no action when rockets were repeatedly fired immediately preceding the cease-fire agreement.
And now, not only has the US government strong-armed Israel into releasing over 100 cold-blooded terrorists in order to appease the Palestinians, but it has simultaneously ignored Abbas’ statement to the Egyptian press that Palestine will be Judenrein. One can’t help but wonder what the reaction would be if Netanyahu had stated that no Arabs will live in the State of Israel.
Kerry stated on Tuesday that “two states deserve countries to call their own” and that “the time has come for a lasting peace” – but Mr. Kerry, this is not what lasting peace looks like. Lasting peace is two parties coming to the negotiating table equally because they truly want to resolve this conflict. The Palestinian Authority has made it abundantly clear that peace is not their objective – so where is American pressure on the PA? The answer is that it’s non-existent.
The Americans place no pressure on the PA; this administration seems to have achieved a level of willfully ignorant arrogance that allows it to believe it doesn’t need to.
The first example of this is illustrated by the Obama administration operating from the false premise that if Israel surrenders sufficient territory, the Palestinians will stop the conflict. History of course teaches exactly the opposite.
What’s more, the PA can’t even control its own population, demonstrating time and time again its ineptitude at enforcing existing peace agreements and preventing violence.
Second, the Obama administration seems to think that because Obama visited Israel and showered Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres with praise, Israel will now do this administration’s bidding, even making unprecedented concessions. This proposition, both arrogant and naïve, relieves the Palestinians of virtually any responsibility at all.
But the height of both naiveté and arrogance is that the Obama administration appears to honestly believe that a peace agreement signed by the leaders of Israel and the PA will actually bring peace. This is undoubtedly, and sadly, the most dangerous aspect of Obama’s misguided hubris, and one need look no further than Oslo for proof.
Peace can only come when the people of Palestine learn to value individualism and life, and have representation that believes in those same principles of liberty.
Instead, they have leaders who blame others for their shortcomings and demand the world pay for their services because of irresponsible and corrupt leadership. Of course, what Kerry and the Americans are missing, or refuse to accept, is that the Palestinian leadership doesn’t want to stop the conflict.
In addition to radical factions opposing the existence of a Jewish state in the first place, the PA itself has no interest in resolving conflict because it’s how its leaders prosper. At the end of the day, the PA could not enforce an agreement even if one were to be reached. For the Obama administration to think otherwise is dangerously imperious.
The author is a freelance writer, MA candidate at Tel Aviv University and a political consultant.