Secretary of State John Kerry failed on Friday to achieve a ceasefire between Israel and forces loyal to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Israel’s Security Cabinet unanimously rejected the latest ceasefire proposal, which called for only a week-long cessation of hostilities. This is only the latest in a series of ceasefire proposals advanced by the United States and its regional allies the either Israel or Hamas have rejected.
“The agony of events on the ground in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel, all of them together, simply cannot be overstated,” Kerry said in a statement in Cairo on Friday announcing the failure of his latest proposal.
Some reports have suggested that Jerusalem’s frustration with the United States was augmented after a 48-hour ban on flights was imposed on Israel by the Federal Aviation Administration. Hamas members called the ban a “great victory.”
“The failure of the new cease-fire proposal comes as five Palestinians were shot and killed in protests Friday in the West Bank after Palestinians called for a ‘Day of Rage’ against the Israeli military’s operation,” USA Today reported. The situation on the ground in Gaza was made even worse in the wake of an attack on a United Nations school in Gaza in which 15 died. That attack was reportedly linked to Israel, but that has not yet been confirmed by independent observers.
The conflict — in its 18th day — has killed 828 Palestinians and left 5,200 injured, said Ashraf al-Kidra, a Palestinian health official. In Israel, 38 people have been killed since July 8, including 35 soldiers, two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker.
Via the New York Daily News, this latest failure cements Kerry’s position as the only American Secretary of State to fail to get combatants on either side of the Israeli/Palestinian equation to agree to a ceasefire amid ongoing hostilities in more than 20 years.
In 1993, President Bill Clinton’s first Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, negotiated the Oslo Accords in which both Israel and Palestine took the monumental step of establishing the Palestinian Authority. Christopher’s successor, Madeleine Albright, brokered a peace deal in 1997 when violence again flared after a spate of suicide bombings and Israel’s refusal to surrender a portion of the West Bank.
George W. Bush’s Former Secretary of State Colin Powell negotiated a peace deal in 2003 which froze Israeli settlements. Sec. Condoleezza Rice negotiated a ceasefire between Hamas, the newly elected ruling party of the evacuated Gaza Strip, in 2008 when the terror network began firing rockets into Israeli territory.
Finally, Obama’s first chief diplomat, Hillary Clinton, led successful peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government in 2010 when hostilities again erupted over Jerusalem’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.
While it is a black mark on his career, Kerry’s failure to negotiate a ceasefire is not really his own. The administration he represents has surrendered much of its influence in the region, and the latest FAA ban only exacerbated tensions between Israel and the United States. What is certain is that blood will be shed as a result of America’s declining regional influence.
An earlier version of this post claimed that the 1993 Oslo agreement included the mutual recognition of both parties as states.