Haaretz is Israel’s establishment, liberal newspaper. Scott once described it to me in shorthand as the New York Times of Israel. So the paper is a natural ally of a Democratic U.S. administration.
That is what makes this article by Barak Ravid remarkable. It is titled Kerry’s latest cease-fire plan: What was he thinking? It is behind a subscription wall, but the link goes to Haaretz’s mobile site and should be accessible:
The press conference U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry convened together with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry was one of Kerry’s most embarrassing incidents since taking office. And there were quite a few in the last year and a half.
A few hours before the press conference began, the Israeli security cabinet ministers unanimously rejected Kerry’s cease-fire plan draft. Kerry, as is his wont, seemed and sounded as if he came from a parallel universe. He claimed to have never presented Israel with a formal offer for a cease-fire, slammed the Israeli media’s “mischievous reports” and promised that Netanyahu’s office will issue a clarification.
As if that wasn’t enough, Kerry claimed he made significant progress in the cease-fire talks and said, deadpan, that the disagreements with Israel are purely on matters of terminology. Reality, of course, was completely different. If anything happened on Friday it was another deep crisis in trust between Israeli senior cabinet members and the American secretary of state.
“Another deep crisis in trust.” That is what conservative critics of Obama’s foreign policy have been saying.
The draft Kerry passed to Israel on Friday shocked the cabinet ministers not only because it was the opposite of what Kerry told them less than 24 hours earlier, but mostly because it might as well have been penned by Khaled Meshal. It was everything Hamas could have hoped for.
The document recognized Hamas’ position in the Gaza Strip, promised the organization billions in donation funds and demanded no dismantling of rockets, tunnels or other heavy weaponry at Hamas’ disposal. The document placed Israel and Hamas on the same level, as if the first is not a primary U.S. ally and as if the second isn’t a terror group which overtook part of the Palestinian Authority in a military coup and fired thousands of rockets at Israel.
But that is entirely consistent with Barack Obama’s world view and, as far as we know, with John Kerry’s. If anything, I suspect that Obama has a bit more regard for Hamas than for Israel.
The secretary of state’s draft empowered the most radical and problematic elements in the region – Qatar, Turkey, and Hamas – and was a slap on the face to the rapidly forming camp of Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, who have many shared interests.
But that is typical–building up our enemies while selling out our friends has been the core of Obama’s foreign policy since 2009.
It’s not clear what Kerry was thinking when he presented this draft. It’s unclear what he had in mind when he convened the Paris summit. It can only be seen as surreal.
Yes, well, welcome to our world. Some of us have been living with the surreal Obama administration for nearly six years now.
Kerry isn’t anti-Israeli; on the contrary, he’s a true friend to Israel.
I doubt that. But, in any event, his boss isn’t.
But his conduct in recent days over the Gaza cease-fire raises serious doubts over his judgment and perception of regional events. It’s as if he isn’t the foreign minister of the world’s most powerful nation, but an alien, who just disembarked his spaceship in the Mideast.
That is how he often struck Americans during the 2004 presidential campaign.
What is significant about these harsh words is that they come from the heart of the Israeli left. The author actually wants a cease fire with Hamas, and is disheartened because Kerry did such an ineffective job of bringing one about:
If Kerry did anything on Friday it was to thwart the possibility of reaching a cease-fire in Gaza. Instead of promoting a cease-fire, Kerry pushed it away. If this failed diplomatic attempt leads Israel to escalate its operation in Gaza, the American secretary of state will be one of those responsible for every additional drop of blood that is spilled.
Nonsense. Hamas alone is responsible for the bloodshed, and it was never realistic to think that the Obama administration could end the fighting; not as long as Netanyahu remains determined to secure his people’s safety. Nevertheless, it is newsworthy that even Israelis on the left have come to see Obama’s foreign policy as coming from outer space.