One might expect pro-Israel conservatives to be denouncing Secretary of State John Kerry for his flagship project of renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations predicated on forcing Israel to make painful territorial concessions. Yes, that’s happening. But what may be surprising are the harsh critiques coming from center, left and Palestinians writers, using words such as “delusional,” “insanity” and “doomed” to described Kerry’s enterprise.
Here are some of the latest assessments of Kerry’s prospects for success:
Goldberg: “Seven Reasons Kerry's Mideast Talks Are Delusional”
Writing for Bloomberg, Jeffrey Goldberg posted an article last week, “Seven Reasons Kerry's Mideast Talks Are Delusional” in which he quipped, “Well OK, then: In about nine months, the Arab-Israeli conflict will be over, and we can all move on to something else.”
Goldberg listed the huge hurdles that would have to be cleared in order to sign a peace agreement after the nine-month window Kerry allocated the current round of talks.
Those are 1. Jerusalem will have to be divided without sparking a global religious war. 2. Jewish settlers in Hebron will have to leave since the Palestinian Authority has said it doesn’t want any Jews in a future Palestine. 3. The descendants of Palestinians who left Israel during the 1948 war “must be told that they aren't moving to Israel.” 4. Between 50,000 to 80,000 Israelis who live in far-flung settlements in Judea and Samara must be moved out of their homes. 5. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "must be persuaded to trust each other." 6. Hamas which runs Gaza “must either dissolve itself or be dissolved by force or change its ideology in such a way as to conform to the Palestinian Authority's vision of compromise,” and 7. “Hezbollah and Iran must be convinced not to start a war designed to interrupt the peace process.”
Former Negotiator: “The Process Kerry Has Launched Is Backwards”
Aaron David Miller, who spent years as a State Department official charged with negotiating between the Israelis and Palestinians, wrote in Politico that because Kerry is more gung-ho about the talks than either of the parties in conflict, attaining success “will be much tougher than anyone imagined.”
“If you took Kerry out of the picture, there would not even be talks about talks. In fact, the process Kerry has launched is backwards,” Miller wrote.
Miller described the current situation in which Abbas and Netanyahu seem to be more motivated by not wanting “to say no to America’s top diplomat” than a sincere optimism about being able to resolve the conflict.
During the Oslo peace talks and the early stages of the Egyptian-Israeli rapprochement, leaders from both sides made tough decisions “long before the United States got involved.”
“Unfortunately, right now, the U.S. owns this one more than the parties do,” Miller added.
“But who are we kidding? This is the Arab-Israeli conflict. What can go wrong will go wrong. And because there’s still very little traction right now in the talks, the U.S. will need to be all over them like a cheap suit,” he wrote.
Palestinian Analyst: “Middle East Peace Talks… Are Doomed to Fail”
A Palestinian analyst told the Agence France Presse news agency after talks resumed last week that they are “doomed to fail” and that the entire process is eclipsed by the Obama administration’s “failed” Middle East policy as reflected by the so-called Arab Spring revolutions.
Palestinian political analyst Abdel Majid Sweilam told AFP, “The talks are doomed to failure. There's no chance for success.”
"These talks are to make the United States happy, because the U.S. still sees the Palestinian issue as a key to solving the problems in the Middle East," he said.
"The U.S. knows its strategy in the region has failed with the recent changes (in Arab countries) and it wants to force the Israelis and Palestinians to the table, not because talks will succeed but because it needs them to happen," he added.
In Sweilam’s opinion, Abbas's main goal is to make sure Israel takes the blame for the failure of the talks, AFP noted.
“The Great Scientist’s Definition of Insanity”
Phyllis Bennis attacked Kerry from a slightly different angle and compared him to a madman.
“Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest foray into Middle East negotiations should be called the Einstein peace process. Doing the same thing over and over again and still expecting different results is the great scientist’s definition of insanity,” she wrote in a post on Mondoweiss, a website that promotes boycotting Israel and supports the idea that descendants of Palestinian refugees have a right to “return” to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza (even if most were born decades after the 1948 Arab attack on Israel and have never been there).
“This time around, indications are that Kerry actually believes, all evidence to the contrary aside, that this latest iteration of the decades-old industry known as the ‘peace process’ might really succeed. But unfortunately for Kerry, his political calculations are about to run aground on the unforgiving shoals of political reality,” Bennis said.
Suggesting the Obama administration is too pro-Israel, she added, “Part of the problem lies squarely in Kerry’s stated U.S. goal for the talks: ‘ending the conflict, ending the claims.’ Not ending the occupation, not ending the siege of Gaza, not ending the decades of dispossession and exile of Palestinian refugees. Only ending the tension, the dispute – regardless of which version of current reality becomes the officially agreed upon final status.”
“Abbas Has Failed to Prepare His People for the Possibility of Peace”
From the right, Khaled Abu Toameh, a veteran Palestinian affairs correspondent for the Jerusalem Post wrote at the conservative Gatestone Institute blog that one major hurdle to any success for peace talks is the consistent demonization of Israel in the Palestinian media.
TheBlaze has reported on the belligerent statements of senior Palestinian Authority officials, including the head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee saying that if the Palestinians had a nuclear bomb they would have used it on Israel and the religious affairs minister who said last month that any peace deal secured with Israel would be temporary, comparing it to a false truce the Muslim prophet Mohammed negotiated only to break two years later.
These statements continue even as the U.S. considers the Palestinian Authority to be the “moderate” Palestinian leadership in comparison with Hamas which states openly that it wants to destroy Israel.
“What Kerry and the U.S. Administration need to understand is that Abbas has failed to prepare his people for the possibility of peace with Israel,” Abu Toameh wrote.
“Abbas may be conducting peace talks with Israel, but at the same time he is also backing campaigns that promote boycotts and hatred of Israel. It is important to talk peace. But it is even more important to educate people about peace -- something that neither Yasser Arafat nor his successor Abbas has done for the past two decades,” Abu Toameh said.