The unanimous response to the Kerry proposal by the members of the Israeli cabinet on Friday night was a strong and definite NO. The Secretary’s proposal managed to unite Israel’s disparate group of key political leaders from Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Liberman on the right, through Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni on the left, the leaders of the Israeli government were horrified that Kerry would present such a bad deal.
Comments from unnamed senior government sources to Army Radio, Channel 2 and other Hebrew outlets have described the secretary as amateurish, incompetent, incapable of understanding the material he is dealing with.
The unnamed sources, quoted by Israel’s Channel 2 TV, said Kerry “dug a tunnel under the Egyptian ceasefire proposal” — which Israel accepted and Hamas rejected last week — and presented the Israeli government with a text that accepted “most of the demands” raised by Hamas, the Islamist terror group that rules the Strip.
To the “horror” of the Israeli ministers, the Kerry proposal accepted Hamas’s demands for the opening of border crossings into Gaza — where Israel and Egypt fear the import of weaponry; the construction of a seaport; and the creation of a post-conflict funding channel for Hamas from Qatar and other countries, according to the sources. The proposal, meanwhile, did not even provide for Israel to continue demolishing the Hamas network of “terror tunnels” dug under the Israeli border.
In its Sunday edition, Ha’aretz perhaps the most anti-Netanyahu major Israeli newspaper published an analysis ripping apart the Kerry offer as embarrassing and accused the Secretary of State of lying to the Israeli government and lying to the world by claiming he never presented a framework of a deal to Israel.
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.
The truth is not only did he present a deal, but the deal was the opposite of what Kerry told them would be in the deal and as Haaretz explained, “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.
(…) 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. What Kerry’s draft spells for the internal Palestinian political arena is even direr: It crowns Hamas and issues Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with a death warrant.
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. Along with foreign ministers from Europe’s major nations Kerry greeted with regal honors Hamas’ Qatari and Turkish patrons, ignoring what Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority might have had to say.
After his Friday screw-up, on Saturday Kerry went to Paris to negotiate with Qatar, a major sugar daddy of Hamas (and where the Hamas leaders take refuge) and Turkey (who called Israel’s self defense campaign Genocide and compared Israeli Premier Netanyahu to Hitler. Mysteriously he did not bring Israel, Egypt, or the PA to his Paris sessions angering all three of the omitted parties.
Here’s the bottom line, if anything Kerry’s intrusion into the cease-fire process has served to screw it up even more than it had been prior to his entrance. Like others in the Obama administration, on too many foreign policy issues, the Secretary of State is so desperate to create a deal that he abandons reason.