Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 12:37 PM
Well, that was quick. The “peace process” announcement by Secretary of State John Kerry has turned out to be less than meets the eye. He told reporters Friday that “important details need to be worked out before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas actually sit down face to face.”
We will see whether they arrive at the bargaining table. But let’s assume the talks about a basis for meeting for talks go well. What then? Any progress in the “peace process” is unlikely in light of some unpleasant realities.
Abbas is currently struggling to form a “unity government” with Hamas, which does not recognize the Jewish state and will not give up terrorism. He showed no ability or will to move forward on a peace deal during George W. Bush’s administration or the first Obama term. At most, Abbas can speak on behalf of the West Bank, but what “peace” is attainable so long as Hamas rules Gaza?
The ascendancy of Iran and its Hezbollah allies naturally make Israel far more nervous about its long-term security. With no sign that the United States intends to challenge the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Russia alliance, the Israeli government has little motivation to take on additional security risks. And without a fully functioning Egyptian government, the potential for new threats from Sinai are significant.
The danger in talks, of course, is that Palestinian expectations rise and then are dashed, leading to violence. (We’ve seen this pattern before.)
Moreover, this is a foolish misuse of American attention and stature, confirming both to our Sunni allies and the Iranian alliance that we are fundamentally unserious about the real threats to the region.
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not, as Kerry insists, the center of the Middle East’s troubles. Pretending that it is invites failure, American humiliation and aggression by the powers that should command our attention.
In the meantime, the prospects for an improved life for the Palestinians and a less confrontational relationship with the Jewish state remain remote.
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