Kerry’s role

The latest in Kerry’s long litany of dire predictions is his warning that the Palestinian Authority might not survive if Israel keeps withholding the tax revenues it collects for Ramallah.

February 25, 2015 22:53
3 minute read.
John Kerry

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon make statements to reporters in Cairo. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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US Secretary of State John Kerry’s attitude toward Israel has always been Cassandra-like. He invariably dispenses prophesies of doom and disaster, but only to Israel.

The latest in Kerry’s long litany of dire predictions is his warning that the Palestinian Authority might not survive if Israel keeps withholding the tax revenues it collects for Ramallah.

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Speaking at a press conference in London, he expressed concern, also on behalf of his British counterpart, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, “about the continued viability of the Palestinian Authority if they do not receive funds soon.”

Kerry cogitated on a chain of hypotheticals: “If the Palestinian Authority ceases, or were to cease, security cooperation – or even decide to disband as a result of their economic predicament, and that could happen in the near future if they don’t receive additional revenues – then we would be faced with yet another crisis that could also greatly impact the security of both Palestinians and Israelis and that would have the potential of serious ripple effects elsewhere in the region.”

Kerry failed to mention why Jerusalem had chosen to freeze the funds in question. This omission implies that Israel acted with out-of-the-blue arbitrariness.

Consequently, Israel would bear the full onus for all the adverse ramifications that its seemingly unjustified actions would spawn.

Ignoring causality signals the PA that it can do no wrong in Washington’s eyes, while Israel willfully refuses to do right (by Obama administration definitions).

This emboldens Mahmoud Abbas to escalate his provocations such as his decision to join the International Criminal Court and thereby instigate proceedings against Israel for alleged war crimes. Israel froze the revenue transfer only after it failed to dissuade its supposed peace partner to desist from this inimical ploy.

Ramallah had not been using the revenue to defray its massive debts for the water and electricity it receives from Israel. The Israel Electric Corporation cannot secure restitution of the PA’s NIS 1.9 billion debt. Kerry presumably expects Israeli citizens to foot the PA’s bills.

Kerry has failed to take Abbas to task for a host of moves that scuttled negotiations – from seeking state-status in UN forums to inspiring boycotts and defaming Israel in order to banish it beyond the pale.

Now Abbas plans to convene the PLO’s central council, where, he implies, he may disband the PA or discontinue security cooperation with Israel.

Kerry has let Abbas off the hook, and the ominous warnings he sends Jerusalem disconcertingly correspond to everything with which Ramallah threatens Israel.

In the past, Kerry admonished Israel that failure to achieve progress with the Palestinians would bring upon it BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) ostracism, more spates of terrorism and apartheid-state stigma.

At the most recent White House ceremony for the Muslim feast of Id al-Adha, Kerry expressed worry that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (i.e. the Jewish state’s struggle for survival) bolsters the mass appeal of Islamic State radicalism.

“As I went around and met with people in the course of our discussions about the ISIL coalition,” he asserted, “there wasn’t a leader I met with in the region who didn’t raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation.”

Kerry repeated the hypothesis in London in warning “of serious ripple effects elsewhere in the region.”

His statements are certainly issued in the spirit of a friend warning another friend that his current behavior will have ramifications, but his non-too-concealed subtext is that somehow Israel is to blame for all that ails the entire Middle East.

That’s the tone that’s continued to chime this week.

Kerry should have stood up to Abbas and unambiguously challenged the PA’s penchant for pinning culpability on Israel. He should have pointed out to Abbas that his provocations contradict any professed aspirations for peace and that relentless vilification negates the very notion of acceptance and coexistence. Until Kerry does that, he will remain as unheeded as Cassandra.

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