In March 2012, President Obama had a bit of an open mike gaffe. At a Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea, he whispered to then Russian President Dmitri Medvedev that he would have “more flexibility” to deal with controversial issues such as missile defense after the 2012 elections. At the time many wondered if that would also apply to other issues, such as his dealings with Israel.
In the past week we learned the answer.
During his trip to the Middle East to revive the struggling peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Secretary of State John Kerry agreed to a joint interview with Israel’s Channel 2 and the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation. Aired Thursday, Kerry took a one-sided and threatening tone toward Israel, including some very undiplomatic words that could be used to incite new violence against the Jewish State.
“Failure of the talks will increase Israel’s isolation in the world. The alternative to getting back to the talks is a potential of chaos. I mean, does Israel want a third intifada?,” Kerry said.
“I believe that if we do not resolve the issues between Palestinians and Israelis; if we do not find a way to find peace, there will be an increasing isolation of Israel. There will be an increasing campaign of delegitimization of Israel that’s taking place on an international basis. That if we do not resolve the question of the settlements and who lives where and how and what rights they have; if we don’t end the presence of Israeli soldiers perpetually within the West Bank, then there will be an increasing feeling that if we cannot get peace with a leadership that is committed to nonviolence, you may wind up with leadership that is committed to violence.”
There are many issues with Kerry’s words, not the least of which are that they appeared on the Palestinian TV run by a government which, as recently as the end of October, explained they glorify terrorists because terrorists are role models.
Was Kerry trying to give the Palestinians an excuse to launch additional terrorist attacks?And what of the Palestinians, who as of this date have refused to consider territorial compromise, refused to recognize Israel as the Jewish State, and still believe all of Israel is occupied Palestine? Where was Kerry’s criticism of their “peace efforts?”
Kerry left Israel and raced to the negotiation table for nuclear talks with Iran. What is well known is that the deal was scuttled because of French objections. What has not been broadly reported is the news from Haaretz, that the Obama Administration was not honest with Israel about the contents of the deal.
Israeli officials say the U.S. misrepresented the concessions offered to Iran and the current direction of talks would undermine sanctions while allowing Iran to proceed with nuclear development. They were going to keep it all a secret until it was signed and Israel could do nothing about it.
In the end, it was the British and the French who told Israel what was actually in the agreement. And the parts of the agreement to which the French had an objection were same parts Obama lied about to the Israelis.
Originally, Israel was told the concessions made to Iran would consist of the freeing up of between $3 billion and $4 billion in Iranian assets frozen in foreign bank accounts. They were told that no other sanctions would be eased.
But on Thursday morning, as Kerry was flying into Ben Gurion Airport, British and French officials were telling Israel more concessions were about to be added to the pot including an end to the ban on trading gold, petrochemical products and replacements parts for machinery and civilian airplanes.
Haaretz reported that Strategic and Intelligence Affairs Ministers Yuval Steinitz spoke about the changing nature of the deal with Iran, at a cultural event in Bat Yam on Saturday morning.
“The outline presented to Israel until several days ago, including during the strategic dialogue in Washington, looked substantially different from what is being discussed at this time,” he said.
Steinitz’s comment was backed by a senior Israeli official involved in the Iranian issue.“On Wednesday, something more acceptable was presented that we also didn’t love but could live with,” the official said. “Suddenly it changed to something much worse that included a much more significant lifting of sanctions. The feeling was that the Americans are much more eager to reach an agreement than the Iranians.”
This is why the scheduled joint press conference with Kerry and Netanyahu was canceled; Kerry did not want a public display of disagreement. It’s also why Netanyahu faced the press himself and went ballistic on the deal; not only was the deal bad for the security of Israel, but the Obama administration wasn’t telling him about the true nature of the deal. They were hoping that when Israel found out, the deal would be signed and it would be too late. Thank G-d for France (something I never thought I would say).
In March 2012, President Obama’s had a bit of an open mike gaffe, telling the Russian President he would have more flexibly in a second term. In the past week we learned his promised flexibility includes inciting the Palestinians to commit more violence against Israel and lying to the Jewish State so he can craft a deal with Iran which would put Israel in grave danger. We now know the low regard President Obama has for the Jewish State.
This column originally appeared in The Jewish Star