WaPo: WH wants Kerry to admit defeat on Israeli-Palestinian effort

posted at 8:01 am on April 4, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Every presidential administration thinks they have the answers that have eluded a century of diplomats which will solve the Jewish-Arab conflict in the Middle East. Some have gotten closer than others; Bill Clinton thought he’d succeeded until Yasser Arafat threw Clinton’s efforts aside for more war, and Jimmy Carter’s one solid accomplishment in foreign affairs was the Israeli-Egypt peace accord. In the end, though, the world’s Gordian knot remains tied, and eventually every administration realizes that it’s time to focus on other issues of more import to the US.

And according to White House sources going almost fully public on the Washington Post’s front page today, they want John Kerry to know that he has reached that point already (via Jim Geraghty):

When his aides get discouraged about the prospects for Middle East peace, Secretary of State John F. Kerry often bucks them up with a phrase: “Don’t be afraid to be caught trying.”

But as his tireless efforts to broker Israeli-Palestinian negotiations hit bottom Thursday, with Israel’s cancellation of prisoner releases that were considered crucial to keeping the talks alive, there are some around Kerry — including on his senior staff and inside the White House — who believe the time is approaching for him to say, “Enough.”

Kerry risks being seen as trying too hard at the expense of a range of other pressing international issues, and perhaps even his reputation, according to several senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity about sensitive internal and diplomatic matters.

“A point will come where he has to go out and own the failure,” an official said. For now, the official said, Kerry needs to “lower the volume and see how things unfold.”

After negotiators met through the night, Israel announced that it would not release 26 long-serving Palestinian prisoners, the final members of a group of 104 whose freedom was part of last summer’s agreement to start talks. The Israelis said they were responding to a Palestinian decision to take unilateral steps to claim greater recognition as a state by the United Nations — a step that was itself a response to additional Israeli demands and an earlier delay in the prisoner release.

So far, Kerry isn’t taking the hint. Yesterday, he talked about the progress “over the last few days,” and claimed that the only differences between the two sides related to process rather than the final status agreement:

If Kerry really believes that, then it’s no small wonder that the White House had to send its sources to the Post to get Kerry’s attention. Over the long period of years, one thing should have been clear, especially after Arafat’s final refusal — the Palestinians want Israel back, and Israel doesn’t want to give it up — and probably doesn’t want to give up much of the West Bank, either. Those aren’t “process” issues. The demand for the right of return, for instance, is an existential question for Israel, as are settlement and water issues for the Palestinians. If the Palestinians have given up on the right of return and the refusal to acknowledge Israel as a sovereign Jewish state while Israel agreed to dismantle the settlements, that’s news to the rest of us.

As Jeffrey Goldberg argues, it’s difficult to blame Kerry for trying to find a solution. People are dying as a result of the ongoing conflict, and the Israelis are our friends and a key ally; why wouldn’t we want to help find a solution? However, the US has other issues that are of more direct import to our own national interests, and having our Secretary of State so publicly mired in this standoff with no results to show from it doesn’t do much for our credibility on those other areas of foreign policy. Hillary Clinton was smart to downplay her involvement in this area.

The most striking part of this story is the fact that the White House — and Kerry’s own staff — need to go to the Post to send the message that it’s time to pack it in. That sends a bigger signal of dysfunction at State and between Kerry and Barack Obama. With Russia mobilizing on its western front, the NATO/EU response of weakness and indecision, and the Iran negotiations on its nuclear-weapons program appearing to spin out of control as a result, Kerry’s attention should be elsewhere, rather than on an attempt to salvage his reputation while failing ever more spectacularly on this conflict. When both sides are equally desirous of peace and co-existence, then the Israelis and Palestinians will find an accommodation with or without a US Secretary of State on hand to midwife it.


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Kerry spent his entire time kissing the idiot Palestinians’ asses and leaning on Israel to endanger their childrens’ safety

TexasJew on April 4, 2014 at 8:11 AM

If Bambi wants Lurch to stop, why doesn’t he just have a meeting with…..oh wait.

Just answered my own question.

Maddie on April 4, 2014 at 8:14 AM

If Kerry really believes that, then it’s no small wonder that the White House had to send its sources to the Post to get Kerry’s attention.

Ed, are you serious? They would do this to their own SecState?

hawkdriver on April 4, 2014 at 8:14 AM

“Lurch, stop with this nonsense, the world loves and respects us again. Let’s focus on getting the oceans to recede.”

Maddie on April 4, 2014 at 8:16 AM

If they really want peace between the Palestinians and Israel, what they need to do is go to Israel, ask what terms it will accept, then tell the Palestinians to accept those terms, or accept being on the losing side of a war with no support. The Palestinians have been milking this nonsense for a couple of generations now, and it’s time to smack their pee-pees, and stick them back in their box.

morganfrost on April 4, 2014 at 8:17 AM

That sends a bigger signal of dysfunction at State and between Kerry and Barack Obama.

Considering the red line blunder and Kerry handing Assad a “Get Chemicals Out Free Card”, the signal is like a safe dropping on the sidewalk.

hawkdriver on April 4, 2014 at 8:18 AM

Rumor at foggy bottom is Jon Carey will be out by years end……

Look for the old “health” and “time with family” phrases to come out.

tic…toc…tic…toc…tic…toc…

RealMc on April 4, 2014 at 8:18 AM

Every presidential administration thinks they have the answers that have eluded a century of diplomats which will solve the Jewish-Arab conflict in the Middle East.

Here’s a thought. Tell each side that we’ve done our best but since it’s not working out we’ll leave you guys to do what you feel you have to do and then ignore them. Sorry, I’ve become cynical about this issue. I’m pretty tired of each new presidential administration thinking it can solve this problem.

DaveDief on April 4, 2014 at 8:20 AM

At least they’re smart enough to bail. I expect something happened that would have made them look bad just before the election. The only one who ever got even close was George Bush. These people don’t have that capability.

Much as I hate giving Carter any credit for anything, the aggreement he put together between Egypt and Israel was a good thing and he should have got the peace prise for it. I like to give credit where credit is due.

crankyoldlady on April 4, 2014 at 8:21 AM

The Palestinians have been milking this nonsense for a couple of generations now, and it’s time to smack their pee-pees, and stick them back in their box.

morganfrost on April 4, 2014 at 8:17 AM

I wish it were that easy. The Palestinians and Old/New emerging forces of the NeoSoviets hate Israel for being the impediment to their influence there. Go read blogs were younger Europeans and Progressives from around the world leave comments. The level of hate directed towards the Israelis and Jews in general is nothing less than frightening. You want to know what talk of the Jews in 1930s Germany sounded like? Go read comments at LiveLeak or wherever ANNA TV videos are posted.

hawkdriver on April 4, 2014 at 8:23 AM

Over the long period of years, one thing should have been clear, especially after Arafat’s final refusal — the Palestinians want Israel back, and Israel doesn’t want to give it up — and probably doesn’t want to give up much of the West Bank, either.

It’s even more basic than that.

The Palestinians want Israel erased from the map, and every Jew there dead. After which, they will carry the Jihad to everybody else that isn’t “them”.

The Israelis aren’t interested in being the guests of (dis)honor at another Holocaust.

It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

As Jeffrey Goldberg argues, it’s difficult to blame Kerry for trying to find a solution. People are dying as a result of the ongoing conflict, and the Israelis are our friends and a key ally; why wouldn’t we want to help find a solution?

Not quite correct. Our progressive academia/media/political leadership Iron Triangle see Israel as their chief enemy. They’ve been romancing the PLO since the Six Day War.

They are irrational mystics who see the Palestinians as their like-minded kindred spirits. The scary part is, that is most likely an entirely accurate assessment.

Both hate the West, our civilization, and reality itself with every fiber of their being. And neither one cares who has to die for their Utopia(s) to Triumph- as long as it isn’t them, specifically their leadership.

The Palestinians are at least more honest. They embrace martyrdom as a holy devotion. Our own “enlightened ones”, OTOH, are determined to sacrifice everybody else to achieve their Apotheosis.

In short, our supposed “leaders” are joined with those who wish us harm, against us.

When this happens to a society, that society rarely survives for very long.

clear ether

eon

eon on April 4, 2014 at 8:23 AM

The most striking part of this story is the fact that the White House — and Kerry’s own staff — need to go to the Post to send the message that it’s time to pack it in. That sends a bigger signal of dysfunction at State and between Kerry and Barack Obama.

OOF!

When both sides are equally desirous of peace and co-existence, then the Israelis and Palestinians will find an accommodation with or without a US Secretary of State on hand to midwife it.

Exactly how does Israel reason with the Palestinians crazy liars stuck on stupid?

workingclass artist on April 4, 2014 at 8:31 AM

I hope they fail.

M240H on April 4, 2014 at 8:33 AM

Pivot to Global Warming Hysteria & spreading the Gay Marriage Gospel….

workingclass artist on April 4, 2014 at 8:33 AM

When both sides are equally desirous of peace and co-existence, then the Israelis and Palestinians will find an accommodation with or without a US Secretary of State on hand to midwife it.

Fact. Nail on head.

When and if all sides ask us to mediate (and I suggest that a volunteer from the American Arbitration Association or other such organization has a better chance, and track record, than does a U.S. politician as a mediator of anything) and all parties honor the process by their actions, maybe we get involved. Otherwise, we have no business midwifing anything between two foreign political entities. Our presence only provides a fulcrum for a see-saw dispute and little else — we do nothing of substance by being there, with John Kerry’s prominent nose in their tent. Not to mention his undisciplined mouth piquing either side on a random basis.

There is no requirement in the official SOS manual that they must gallop off to “solve” this conflict. I can only imagine the effect of someone showing up in the back hills to tell the Hatfields and McCoys that they’re “from Washington and here to help you.” I’m surprised Kerry doesn’t have a butt filled with buckshot by now. Even more surprising is that the fire seems to be coming from his own side this time. He might want to grab a sail board and chill before they start using larger bullets.

The Palestinians don’t see a nation that’s staring them in the face and the nation they don’t see isn’t going anywhere so it isn’t real clear what going over there and speaking French to both sides is going to accomplish. I have an idea for a Kerry pivot (or, in his case, a tack to use sailing terms). How about finding the Benghazi survivors and providing them a map to a Congressional hearing room? That might be a good use of his time. [Sarcasm intentional.]

IndieDogg on April 4, 2014 at 8:39 AM

Only reaon Carter got anywhere was because Sadat saw peace as a way of getting rid of growing Soviet presence.

Wethal on April 4, 2014 at 8:41 AM

Ed, are you serious? They would do this to their own SecState?

hawkdriver on April 4, 2014 at 8:14 AM

It seems Kerry’s ego is the only reason he continues to negotiate. You know, to “salvage his reputation”. He probably sees the admin as the bunch of children that they are.

So, potential public embarrassment (his ego vs. his ego) may be the only way the admin can stop him so that the admin can then drop the other shoe jackboot on Israel (?)

Tsar of Earth on April 4, 2014 at 8:45 AM

Lurch isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. He needs to be told the same thing several times before he gets the message.

GarandFan on April 4, 2014 at 8:46 AM

I hope the strong stench of fail remains on Le Kerrey and Le Clintoon for the rest of their lives.

Idiots.

Key West Reader on April 4, 2014 at 8:46 AM

So far, Kerry isn’t taking the hint. Yesterday, he talked about the progress “over the last few days,” and claimed that the only differences between the two sides related to process rather than the final status agreement:

The only difference is that Israel wants to exist as a Jewish state and the Palestinians do not want Jews to exist. Until the latter changes there should be no effort towards a peace process. That only encourages anti-Semitism. And cut off all aid to the PA.

rbj on April 4, 2014 at 8:50 AM

From Aaron David Miller on Kerry:

But rarely have I encountered anyone — let alone a secretary of state — who seemed more self-confident about his own point of view and not all that interested in somebody else’s.

He and Obama probably can’t go through a door together. the size of their egos will allow only one at a time to enter.

Meryl Yourish on April 4, 2014 at 8:53 AM

so they are telling kerry to toss his medals over the fence on this one?
supposedly hes good at that….

tell the plo to deal with jordan and to shut the hell up.

dmacleo on April 4, 2014 at 8:55 AM

It seems Kerry’s ego is the only reason he continues to negotiate. You know, to “salvage his reputation”. He probably sees the admin as the bunch of children that they are.

So, potential public embarrassment (his ego vs. his ego) may be the only way the admin can stop him so that the admin can then drop the other shoe jackboot on Israel (?)

Tsar of Earth on April 4, 2014 at 8:45 AM

Your comment is supported by this for sure.

But rarely have I encountered anyone — let alone a secretary of state — who seemed more self-confident about his own point of view and not all that interested in somebody else’s.

Anyway, meanwhile Assad, The Russians, Europe laughs at this administration and the US.

hawkdriver on April 4, 2014 at 9:00 AM

I think JFK has delusions of running in ’16.

How dare another DemocRAT suggest that the Obama Regime isn’t Eternal like the “divine” ChicagoKenya messiah!

ConstantineXI on April 4, 2014 at 9:01 AM

Obama’s entire Middle East strategy revolves around forcing Israel to make concessions that would eventually lead to her destruction. Unfortunately for him, he has been unable to get the Palestinians to make even symbolic gestures, and the Netanyahu led Israeli government harbors no illusions about Obama’s ultimate goal.

Even leftist Israelis are beginning to understand Obama’s ultimate goal is the destruction of Israel.

Some problems can’t be solved with talk even by well-intended and even-handed mediators, let alone by the deceit and half-witted trickery of functional morons like Obama, Kerry, and fools like Clinton and the rest of Obama’s Faculty Lounge Liberal posse. Palestinians want Israelis gone from the Middle East, preferably by being slaughtered in place. Israelis have no intention of leaving their country, on their feet or in boxes. Unless the Palestinians and their Islamist allies fundamentally alter their opposition to the very existence of Israel, peace in the Middle East is not possible. Obama and his ship of fools understand this, but since they are in agreement with the barbarians that Israel must be wiped off the map, they have focused on fatally weakening her while pretending to be her friend. They know Israel’s enemies haven’t the power to destroy her unless she is significantly weakened. That weakening is seen by Obama and his tools as their job. It’s not going to happen, and apparently Obama and his tools are beginning to understand the Israelis see through them and will never make the deadly concessions they are seeking.

novaculus on April 4, 2014 at 9:03 AM

It seems Kerry’s ego is the only reason he continues to negotiate. You know, to “salvage his reputation”. He probably sees the admin as the bunch of children that they are.

Tsar of Earth on April 4, 2014 at 8:45 AM

That and he figures that if he succeeds at a peace agreement he’ll have what he needs to beat Hillary in a primary. Never forget: his initials are JFK.

smellthecoffee on April 4, 2014 at 9:09 AM

I hate to say it, but I think Israel needs to pull its spies out of Gaza and begin an immediate aerial bombardment campaign. That place is a nest of terrorism and it isn’t going to change. They’ve raised too many generations filling them with hate from the time they’re babies.

After that, I think the Palis in the West Bank will be falling all over themselves to see who can get to the table first.

Occams Stubble on April 4, 2014 at 9:16 AM

So he looks as bad as Hillary in the 2016 election primaries.

albill on April 4, 2014 at 9:17 AM

Israel should take a tip from Russia in regards to how they handled Crimea….

Just take it over and then let the world whine about it.

albill on April 4, 2014 at 9:19 AM

I think JFK has delusions of running in ’16.

ConstantineXI on April 4, 2014 at 9:01 AM

I think it is delusions of the Noble Peace Prize.

docflash on April 4, 2014 at 9:25 AM

I really, really, think it’s about time we just let the Israelis and the Palestinians alone and let them fight it out one last time. There never, ever, will be “peace” between them and the only thing that will solve this problem is a final war. As in most major final decisions involving borders, the issue usually is settled by who wins the last war, be it World War I, World War II, Korea, or the Cold War.

Face it, the Palestinians, driven by Hamas and Hezbollah, want the Israelis dead and gone, and the Israelis are not about to let that happen. There will be a war, the only question is when and how bad it will be. The Palestinians have a homeland, and it’s called Jordan. If they were smart, those that do not want to live under Israeli rule should move there, because the Israelis are not going anywhere. The United States should just step aside, tell Israel that it will support whatever it does, and let them sort it out.

This is a battle that goes back centuries. It will never be solved by our meddling in their affairs. The only question is, will the Palestinians call in Hezbollah’s support from Southern Lebanon for the final battle? My guess is that they will, which means major destruction for all sides in this final struggle, especially with Iran supporting Hezbollah. This is the way it shall be, no matter what Kerry or Obama may want. It will be the final Arab-Israeli war, and it will be for all the marbles.

Libertyship46 on April 4, 2014 at 9:27 AM

That and he figures that if he succeeds at a peace agreement he’ll have what he needs to beat Hillary in a primary. Never forget: his initials are JFK.

smellthecoffee on April 4, 2014 at 9:09 AM

He can smell that Nobel Peace Prize as much as Clinton could back in 2000 when Arafat pantsed him on the Eastern Shore of Maryland during what was supposed to be the final phases of the peace talks with Ehud Barak (after Clinton had send Carville over to Jerusalem to get Barak and Labor elected over Netanyahu and Likud, just so Bill would have a more mailable Israeli leader to get him his Nobel).

Get Kerry (or Clinton) alone and both would no doubt admit they’re incredibly jealous and angry that Obama won a Nobel for doing absolutely nothing, while they’re actually forced to work for theirs. So it would be doubly galling to the haughty, French-looking Secretary of State (who BTW, served in Vietnam) to have what he sees as possibly the crowning achievement of his political career being shut down by the guy who won the award for being Not George W. Bush.

(Sane people would think any award whose voters are that petty and short-sighted isn’t worth having. But these are liberals we’re talking about here — they think the Nobel Peace Prize is the greatest award they can ever get, other than possible Al Gore’s Daily Double of a Nobel and and Oscar for his fraud climate change documentary.)

jon1979 on April 4, 2014 at 9:28 AM

The One will run another spinning victory lap and Keri will move on to his next spectacular failure, leading first with his over-sized chin.

vnvet on April 4, 2014 at 9:37 AM

Jimmy blames Jews for Obama snub…

“Lest anyone think this was a slip of the tongue, he repeated the assertion in more stark terms this morning during a fawning interview with Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough on the same network’s Morning Joe program:

I think that sometimes an incumbent president doesn’t want to be very friendly with me because it might looked upon as more friendly toward the Palestinians instead of the Israelis. So we try to be balanced. That’s the only issue that separates me from Obama anyway. And I was very proud of him when he made a speech in Cairo and said no more settlements when he said the 67 borders would prevail except for minor modifications. Those things are very compatible with what I believe.

Carter might consider that the reason a successor wouldn’t wish to be burdened with a relationship with him was, at least in part, due to the Georgian’s insufferable personality and chronic self-righteousness. But there may be some truth to his assertion that his stands on the Middle East are at the root of the problem. Far from being an innocent victim of political influence for being “even-handed,” however, his lack of influence is due to the fact that his bias and slanders against the Jewish state have effectively marginalized him.

Carter’s grudge against the pro-Israel community goes back to his defeat for reelection at the hands of Ronald Reagan in 1980. Carter thought he would reap the applause of supporters of the Jewish state because of his role in the Camp David Accords that brokered peace between Israel and Egypt. But Reagan gained a record percentage of the Jewish vote for a Republican due in no small measure to the contrast between his support for Israel and Carter’s open antagonism toward the Israeli government led by Menachem Begin. Once out of office, Carter has spent the years since nursing this grudge and becoming an increasingly bitter opponent of Israel and those who support it. This reached a crescendo in 2007 with the publication of his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. The book, a compendium of vicious slurs hurled against the Jewish state, lent the imprimatur of the former president and the Carter Center for Peace to the canard that Israel was imposing apartheid on the Arabs. In Carter’s world, Israelis have always been the obstacles to peace while Palestinian terrorism and refusal to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn is always ignored.

Carter can always count on a sympathetic hearing in the mainstream media (and especially on the show where the daughter of his former National Security Advisor is the co-host) and has carefully cultivated a low-key do-gooder image because of charity projects with which he has associated himself. But his animus against Israel puts him outside the American political mainstream. That is not because supporters of Israel don’t believe in fairness but due to the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans in both major political parties want no part of Carter’s hostility to the Jewish state. If he has become politically toxic even during the administration of the president whose foreign policy and predilection for picking fights with Israel most resembles his own, it is due to his own intemperate and indefensible views on the Middle East and his not-so-subtle echoes of the anti-Semitic Walt-Mearsheimer “Israel Lobby” thesis. Obama’s snubs in the wake of Carter’s “apartheid” slurs are simply a matter of political awareness that it wasn’t possible to align oneself with such a discredited figure. That the 39th president would blame the Jews, rather than himself, for this predicament is as vile as it is predictable….”

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2014/03/24/carter-blames-jews-for-obamas-snubs-israel-apartheid/

workingclass artist on April 4, 2014 at 9:43 AM

Our progressive academia/media/political leadership Iron Triangle see Israel as their chief enemy. They’ve been romancing the PLO since the Six Day War.

They are irrational mystics who see the Palestinians as their like-minded kindred spirits. The scary part is, that is most likely an entirely accurate assessment.

eon on April 4, 2014 at 8:23 AM

Progressives in academia and media tend to be secular feminist supporters of gay rights, and those perspectives are even more important to them than their dislike of Israel. Such a viewpoint is not all that common a perspective among the Palestinians, so they really aren’t kindred spirits.

J.S.K. on April 4, 2014 at 9:47 AM

…This is a battle that goes back centuries. It will never be solved by our meddling in their affairs…

Libertyship46 on April 4, 2014 at 9:27 AM

Mohammed declared Islam’s war against the rest of humanity in general and the Jews in particular 14 centuries ago. For the Islamists that war can only end in their total victory; the only acceptable terms of our surrender are Death, Slavery or Dhimmitude.

It’s not just Islam’s perpetual war with the Jews. Its Islam’s perpetual war with the entire non-Muslim world, including us, no matter how many idiots try to ignore the reality and get us all killed.

novaculus on April 4, 2014 at 10:17 AM

That American leadership can even entertain the idea that Islam will allow Israel to exist, disqualifies America from decisions on what is possible in the world. And now that America is backing Islam every where, it isn’t to be trusted or followed by anyone with sense.

BL@KBIRD on April 4, 2014 at 10:31 AM

So the White House is evolving to the Bush position

J_Crater on April 4, 2014 at 11:24 AM

Merde

Schadenfreude on April 4, 2014 at 11:26 AM

…Smart Power!

KOOLAID2 on April 4, 2014 at 11:37 AM

That sends a bigger signal of dysfunction at State…

You know what’s the biggest signal of dysfunction at State? That John Kerry is running it.

Shump on April 4, 2014 at 11:43 AM

Classic clash of egos. If sKerry had won in 04, Oboobi wouldn’t even be POTUS in 08 let alone in 12. So in deep down in his mind he’s irritated that he answers to Oboobi instead of doing things and achieving greatness in hi own mind. Suck it.

AH_C on April 4, 2014 at 11:56 AM

There’s no such thing a ‘Palestine’. Those…people…are Jordanian. They should go back there.
Am Yisrael Chai!

annoyinglittletwerp on April 4, 2014 at 12:00 PM

This is the easiest conflict in the world to solve.

You just do what the UN did with the Germany-Poland conflict post WW2.

1) Set the border at a river so it is natural and defensible.
Like the Polish border was moved to Neisse/Oder, Jordan river should be the border.

2) Population swaps to stop all future territorial claims.
Like Germans were moved from West Poland to Germany, move Arabs from Cisjordan to Transjordan. Compensate them financially if they have property deeds. Jordan is much bigger than Israel.

TADA – no war!

But no, the UN did this to solve Europe’s war problems, and then decided the only rational solution to these sorts of problems will forevermore be illegal.

ebrawer on April 4, 2014 at 2:28 PM