Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Very Real Cost of John Kerry's Foolish Peace Efforts

US Sec. of State Kerry has been working all out on solving what is without argument the least pressing issue in the Middle East - the  Israel / Palestinian conflict - and his heavy handed efforts will almost certainly cost lives.

As I've written previously , the Palestinians are unable and unwilling to enter into final status talks - unable because they are split between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah controlled Palestinian Authority. Worse, the Abbas led PA is deeply unpopular and seen as a "Zionist tool" by much of the Palestinian street, therefore rendering any agreement unpalatable to the Palestinian people & an anathema to Hamas. Worse, the many years of incitement in Palestinian society, which starts when their children are very small, has led to  a people who truly believe that a Palestinian state will include Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ramallah. Then there is the issue of the so called Palestinian refugees - 65 years of being kept in slum camps, with no rights by their Arab brothers, they will almost certainly be "repatriated" to the new & very poor state of Palestine, crushing it before it even gets established. Abbas knows this, and knows he can't accept these refugees, nor can he (or any Palestinian leader) ever say this to the Palestinians, who have been brought up on the mantra of "right of return" for 65 years.

We've seen in the past that when the Palestinian Authority has seen no way to walk from talks, it turns to violence, making the situation worse. If Kerry pushes them this time, we can expect to see images of blown up buses and bombed cafe's again - the Palestinians will resort to violence to stop this impossible agreement ever being negotiated - certainly Hamas & other Islamist will resort to violence forcing Israel to defend itself, creating the pretext for Abbas to walk away. Nothing achieved but dead and maimed Israelis, and ordinary Palestinians suffering from increased security measures by the IDF.

Add to that the question as to whether anyone seriously looking at the Middle East, with rampant Islamist clashing with autocratic regimes, and chaos surrounding all of Israel's borders, believe that Israel can  trust the Palestinians & other Arab states to be able to honor an agreement? After all any Palestinian state will occupy the high ground above Israel's center, a military nightmare for the IDF, and yet the Palestinian Authority  cannot even guarantee it won't become a Hamas organization within a year! The what? Certainly a situation far far worse for both sides than that which exists today. The states that neighbor Israel are in position to offer anyone security guarantees - even Jordan, the most stable state in the area, could easily succumb to 'arab spring' violence at any moment. 

I'm not saying there shouldn't be talks or that the potential for agreement does not exist - but this is not the time: Iran & their Islamists have caused chaos across the Mid East, hijacking the  Arab Spring with the potential to drag Lebanon & Jordan into the hell of Syria's civil war; diminished power of Arab oil (along with Israel's newly discovered oil & gas) has started a process of changing attitude to Israel from the Gulf States - a process that could eventually produce regional allies to support a peace agreement..but not yet; a deeply; and a  violently divided Palestinian state in no way ready for statehood - the only the Kerry can achieve here is instability and violence. A regional solution is needed, with regional guarantees & regional involvement in any negotiations, to deal with the issue of the refugees, security, etc...only a fool could believe that in the midst of the current chaos, such an agreement can be reached at this time.

The Obama administration has shown that every time it has dipped its heavy handed toes into the Mid East  it has failed miserably, causing far more misery than existed before they butted in - so Mr. Kerry...your kind of help, we can do without! 

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