John Kerry’s Ha­mas-friendly cease­fire plan ex­poses his in­com­pe­tence to all

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY STEPHEN POL­LARD

IT TAKES a spe­cial type of tal­ent to unite Is­rael, the Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity, the Saudis, Egypt and pretty much every­one ex­cept Ha­mas, Turkey and Qatar. The type of tal­ent that mixes in­com­pe­tence with jaw­drop­ping ar­ro­gance.

The tal­ent, in other words, of the US Sec­re­tary of State, John Kerry.

It is pos­si­ble — just — on one read­ing of the 18 months since he as­sumed of­fice to as­cribe the fail­ure of the peace process to a well-in­ten­tioned naivety in Mr Kerry.

It’s a thin ar­gu­ment. Of all the peo­ple in the world who should not be naïve, the US Sec­re­tary of State would be top. But there are some who make that case.

No longer. The cease­fire draft put for­ward last week by Mr Kerry is so ma­lign in in­tent to­wards Is­rael, so ru­inous to­wards the PA and so craven in its de facto sup­port for Ha­mas that only two con­clu­sions are pos­si­ble. Ei­ther Mr Kerry in­tends to harm Is­rael or he is com­pletely out of his depth.

The US is in the­ory com­mit­ted to Is­rael’s se­cu­rity. On the level of aid that re­mains true.

But look at the cease­fire plan. No men­tion of re­mov­ing Ha­mas’s rock­ets or tun­nels. No men­tion of de­mil­i­tari­sa­tion. In­stead, an en­trenched Ha­mas and a de­mand that Is­rael lifts its block­ade of Gaza — ac­cept­ing Ha­mas’s nar­ra­tive that its ter­ror is a re­sponse to the block­ade rather than vice versa. As­ton­ish­ingly, Ha­mas is treated on the same ba­sis as Is­rael, as a le­git­i­mate rep­re­sen­ta­tive body speak­ing for the Pales­tini­ans rather than as a ter­ror­ist group pro­scribed by the US which seized con­trol through a coup and which uses aid — in­clud­ing from the US — to fund its ter­ror against a sup­posed US ally.

The draft was not so much for a cease­fire as for an Is­raeli, PA and US ca­pit­u­la­tion to Ha­mas’s de­mands. Ef­fec­tively de­stroy­ing the PA, it could have been drawn up by Khaled Mashaal.

And no plan was even nec­es­sary. Is­rael had al­ready ac­cepted an Egyp­tian pro­posal. There’s a pat­tern here. It is not as if the US State De­part­ment is sud­denly de­void of any­one who un­der­stands the Mid­dle East. The prob­lem — this is a theme that has been heard from many sources — is that Mr Kerry is such an ego­ma­niac that he sim­ply ig­nores all of them. He knows best.

Last week’s events lend cre­dence to the Is­raelis’ spin in March, when the peace talks with the PA col­lapsed, that Kerry had ruined the en­tire process by ly­ing to both sides about each oth­ers’ po­si­tions. He sim­ply didn’t un­der­stand what he was do­ing, they said.

It’s back to those two ex­pla­na­tions again. Ei­ther he is a blun­der­ing fool who is so far out of his depth as to be a se­ri­ous dan­ger. Or he does know what he is do­ing — which is even worse.

Look at how he re­acted to the Is­raelis’ (and PA’s) re­jec­tion of his plan. In Paris im­me­di­ately af­ter­wards, he chose to speak only to Turkey and Qatar. That’s Turkey, whose govern­ment (backed by Ha­mas) says Is­rael is com­mit­ting geno­cide in Gaza and that Ne­tanyahu is ten times worse than Hitler; and Qatar, which is now Ha­mas’s main fun­der.

Speak to the PA or Egypt? Or…Is­rael? As if.

One of the few pos­i­tive things to have emerged in re­cent weeks has been the de facto al­liance of Is­rael, Egypt, the PA, Jor­dan, Saudi Ara­bia and the UAE. Mr Kerry has sin­gle-hand­edly de­stroyed that prom­ise. He has made clear that in the US’ eyes, Ha­mas is the le­git­i­mate rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Pales­tini­ans and that the Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity is not even worth talk­ing to — be­cause the PA was ig­nored through­out.

This mat­ters not just be­cause his ac­tions have made a cease­fire less, not more, likely, but be­cause Is­rael, Egypt, the PA, Jor­dan, Saudi Ara­bia and the United Arab Emi­rates now re­gard him as at best an in­com­pe­tent buf­foon and at worst a liar. And the im­pli­ca­tions of his pan­der­ing to Turkey and Qatar are sim­ply hor­ri­fy­ing.

PHOTO: AP

John Kerry

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