Wash. Post columnist applauds Kerry's diplomacy at Israel's expense

David Ignatius, a Washington Post foreign affairs columnist, pens a highly laudatory piece about Secretary of State John Kerry's Mideast diplomacy in the paper's July 25 edition ("The tenacious diplomat," page A19).

Unlike other observers, who think Kerry is on a fool's errand with his top-priority emphasis on brokering an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, Ignatius sees steady progress by the secretary in getting the two sides to resume negotiations.

In Ignatius" view, Kerry is to be commended for his "stubborn pursuit" of a peace deal, and readers can be assured that "he understands that the Israeli-Palestinian issue remains the tent pole in Middle East diplomacy."

But specifically, why is Ignatius so bullish about Kerry?  As Exhibit A, Ignatius writes that Kerry "has gotten the two sides to agree on initial confidence-building measures -- the Israelis will agree to release a significant number of Palestinian prisoners who were arrested before the 1994 Oslo agreement; Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has said that the roughly 100 prisoners are a crucial issue for him."

And what is Israel getting in return of equal value?  "The Palestinians, in exchange, have agreed to forgo for at least six months playing their trump card, which is taking statehood to the United Nations."

If this is supposed to be Kerry's idea of gaining trust of  both sides, both Ignatius and our primo U.S. diplomat are trying to pull the wool over Israel and its supporters.  The egregious imbalance between the Palestinians' quid and Israel's quo is glaringly obvious.

Under this supposed initial Kerry success, the Palestinians would gain permanent freedom for some 100 terrorist killers so they can again attack Israelis.  Such recidivism has been amply demonstrated among the 1,000 Palestinian prisoners Israel let loose to get back Israel's abducted soldier, Gilad Shalit.

In sharp contrast, Israel would get absolutely nothing of permanent value -- only a vague Palestinian promise to wait six months before pursuing statehood support at the United Nations.  Even assuming that Abbas would keep his promise, the Palestinians would be free to engage in more mischief at the U.N.

A hundred Palestinian prisoners sprung loose for a dubious Abbas pledge with a six-month termination clause.  That's Ignatius's idea of reciprocity in Israeli and Palestinian confidence-building measures. 

But that's not Kerry's only diplomatic feat on the Israeli-Palestinian front applauded by Ignatius.  As his second exhibit, Ignatius trots out an Arab League peace plan based on 1967 lines with "border swaps."  And, Ignatius adds, to sweeten this marvelous deal, "the Arab League renewed its promise of eventual recognition of Israel."

On closer reading, however, this Arab initiative again is anything but reassuring.  In fact, it's a backdoor way of eliminating the Jewish state altogether.  For one thing, the Arab plan calls for a "right of return" to Israel of millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants -- a demographic death-knell that Ignatius somehow misses.  And for another thing, the 1967 lines, even with border swaps, would leave Israel dangerously exposed to another intifada.  It's not for nothing that Abba Eban, Israel's former foreign minister, called them "Auschwitz lines."

Caveat Israel -- Ignatius and John Kerry bring some very toxic gifts to the table.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers.