A lot has been said and much fun been made of John Kerry’s ridiculous ceasefire proposal, which was utterly rejected by Israel. It turns out that John Kerry’s delicate feelings and fragile ego have been mortally wounded by the mockery.
Below are a series of items from yesterday’s Times of Israel live-blog which illustrate this:
First, an overview from Avi Issacharoff regarding the ongoing dispute with Kerry:
Labor opposition leader Isaac Herzog told Channel 2 earlier that Secretary Kerry, with whom he says he speaks often, has been “hurt to the depths of his soul” by the criticisms he’s received in Israel for his handling of the ceasefire effort.
ToI’s Avi Issacharoff explains in an analysis piece why Kerry has so infuriated his allies.
One key point: “Kerry and his staff made an outrageous decision to turn their backs on the Egyptian framework for a ceasefire in a manner that encouraged Hamas to continue shooting rockets… By turning to Doha and Ankara behind the backs of Cairo and Jerusalem, Washington — no doubt unintentionally — strengthened Hamas’s resolve against Egypt and Israel.”
Another: “The farce continued with the amateurish draft that was immediately rejected by Israel’s security cabinet.”
And a third: “It then reached new heights on Saturday in Paris, when Kerry decided to participate in an international summit on Gaza, attended by his new friends al-Attiyah and Davutoglu (the foreign ministers of Qatar and Turkey) as well as the foreign ministers of the European Union, but not by a few players that Kerry apparently perceives as marginal – representatives of Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and, of course, Israel.
It’s hard to say what caused the Obama administration to join forces with the Muslim Brotherhood of all camps — loyally represented by Turkey and Qatar — and turn its back on the movement’s sworn enemy, the Egyptian government. The best case scenario is that it might have been amateurism or a misreading of the situation. In a less ideal scenario, Washington decided to forge an alliance with organizations and entities that would be happy to see Israel disappear from the map.”
Says Issacharoff: “I prefer to bet on the first option… that Kerry just doesn’t understand who’s playing against whom in the Wild Mideast.
Here is Avi Issacharoff’s full article.
Here’s just one example of an MK’s scathing view of American diplomacy. Zeev Elkin said “Last time we listened to the US, Hamas took Gaza”.
The US clearly can’t abide any criticism and use nasty menacing language against Israel’s legitimate criticism as we read that “Criticism of Kerry could jeopardize Israeli-US ties — US officials“. It seems that criticism is a one-way street. The US, particularly the State Deparment, can and does criticise Israel loudly, publicly and often, but cannot dish it out. We’ve been here before.
The State Department goes on the defensive Monday afternoon, critiquing Israeli sources for leaking details of a Gaza ceasefire draft, and then denying allegations that the draft represented a capitulation to Hamas demands.
Leaks and criticism of the sort that Secretary of State John Kerry faced over the weekend are “simply not the way allies and partners treat each other,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki complains.
Riiight. The US has never criticised Israel. Not.
The US ought to know that in the Middle East, but especially in Israel, you know you’ve lost your argument when you’ve lost the left as well as the right, and when their views converge –Voices from left, right wary of US ceasefire proposal.
However, despite all America’s sound and fury at Israel’s audacity in rejecting their ceasefire proposal, Israeli criticism did manage to alter the US ceasefire terms:
While American officials continue to fume at the Israeli media for its harsh criticism of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to reach a ceasefire last week, apparently it had some effect. During a speech, Kerry says that “any process to resolve the crisis in Gaza… must lead to the disarmament of Hamas.” In a ceasefire proposal Kerry had submitted to Israel on Friday, no disarmament of Hamas was mentioned.
Small comfort but we have take the crumbs that we can find.
Israel’s confusion at John Kerry’s delusional behaviour has not gone unnoticed in the foreign press. The Daily Telegraph’s Robert Tail reports that “Israel thinks that John Kerry is an alien, an ongoing embarrassment“:
John Kerry has almost certainly been called worse things than a space alien – particularly by Israel’s Right-wing camp, where contempt for the US secretary of state and his failed peacemaking efforts is unabashed.
But when the insult is levelled by the previously supportive Haaretz newspaper, standard-bearer of the country’s liberal-Left, it may be time for him – and by extension, President Barack Obama – to take notice.
The withering description was coined by Barack Ravid, the paper’s well-informed and normally restrained diplomatic editor, to describe Mr Kerry’s attempts at brokering a truce to the bloody conflict in Gaza – rejected by Israel amid widespread mockery.
“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,” wrote Mr Ravid, even while softening his remarks by describing Mr Kerry as “a true friend to Israel”.
Worse still from Mr Kerry’s viewpoint, the journalist suggested that, Moshe Ya’alon, the Israeli defence minister, “may have had a point” earlier this year when he labelled America’s top diplomat “obsessive and messianic” in remarks that were widely disparaged at the time over his abortive attempts to mediate a peace deal with the Palestinians.
The Israeli media carried similarly mocking depictions in abundance on Sunday – all fuelled by senior figures in Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, who professed amazement at the terms of a proposed ceasefire deal which they said were skewed in favour of Hamas, the Islamist militant group which Israel is fighting.
Yet it is the Haaretz insult that signals Mr Kerry’s credibility loss in the eyes of Washington’s closest Middle East ally, according to Israeli government insiders.
“If he gets rubbished by Haaretz, it means he really goofed up,” said one official, who said the criticism was widely shared across the Israeli political spectrum.
Debka reports (h/t DavidinPT) that it wasn’t only Israel who was furious at the Kerry proposal. The Palestinian Authority strongly objected too:
The Palestinian Authority was much more open and blunt than Netanyahu in its disapproval of the game that was being played out in Paris. Walid Assad, one of the spokesmen of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas protested what he called Kerry’s “appeasement” of Qatar and Turkey at the expense of Egypt and the PA, and his failure to invite either to the meeting for discussing a ceasefire in Gaza hostilities.
Senior Palestinian officials warned against attempts to “bypass the PLO as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”
In the legitimacy stakes, Netanyahu has three solid allies for crushing Hamas: Saudi King Abdullah, Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi and the UAE ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Sunday, Mahmoud Abbas attached a Palestinian voice to this group.
Debka goes on to try and explain the American rationale behind their ceasefire attempts:
This regional coalition has enormous clout, derived, on the one hand, from the Israeli military and its fight against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the Egyptian army’s containment of Hamas efforts to break out into Sinai for strategic depth; and, on the other, from the financial might of Saudi Arabia and the oil emirates and the world prestige they enjoy.
So why is the Obama administration shoving this powerful coalition out of his way and building a rival alliance to counter it?
Its primary motive is fear that if this group is allowed to make the Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip a success, it will become the springboard for its next move, a victorious assault on Iran.
This sequence of events would totally derail current US Middle East policy, which hinges on détente with Tehran, Obama’s advisers warn him, and even jeopardize his strategy for bringing the nuclear negotiations between the six world powers and Iran to a successful conclusion.
I can’t see anything wrong with derailing American policy in the Middle East. As far as I’m concerned, and probably most Israelis, that should be a feature, not a bug, of any future agreement.