Lessons for Israel from the Failed Peace Talks

Over the past two weeks, Israeli National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen sent letters to the White House and European leaders outlining the deceptive Palestinian strategy to exploit the peace talks for short-run, tangible benefits with no intention of achieving peace.  

Accompanying the letters is a 65-page internal Palestinian document from Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recommending that the Palestinians do an end run and move forward to join fifteen international organizations. The foundation and impetus for the current round of talks ensued from an agreement that the Palestinians would not go ahead on this front. 

Erekat also recommended that the talks not extend beyond Kerry’s deadline, guaranteeing their demise.

While the Palestinians danced before the international media to the tune of peace, once out of the glare of the cameras’ lights, they were telling their own people that the talks were only being engaged in to obtain the release of Palestinian prisoners -- many with innocent blood on their hands.

The strategy worked. Despite anguished outcries from the families of terrorist victims, Israel let dozens of terrorists return to a hero’s welcome in the Palestinian territories. They were showcased as role models for Palestinian children. Undoubtedly some of them will kill again, and some of the children they inspire will become future murderers.  

But the Palestinians’ biggest victory was the American administration’s placing blame for the failure of the talks on Israeli’s reluctance to release another batch of murderers to be lionized as heroes. The Israelis knew the Palestinians were playing charades, and if there was any doubt, the forged unity agreement, during the negotiations, between Fatah and the terrorist group, Hamas, confirmed Israel’s fears. 

Kerry’s capacity for showering blame on the Israelis reached obscene heights after the talks collapsed. His invoking the tired and worn Apartheid canard against Israel was not an error in judgment but a calculated act of mendacity befitting the man who deluded himself into believing that Israel ripped the Nobel Peace Prize from his hands.

Kerry also gave encouragement and legitimacy to the Palestinians whose public narrative is that the Israelis scuttled the talks, even though they themselves had no interest in their success.

Aside from the near impossibility of the talks succeeding, Kerry’s conduct further assured their failure.

He established a public deadline. He permitted the substance of the talks to leak. He openly condemned Israel as the talks were ongoing. He asked Israel to release prisoners with blood on their hands while demanding nothing from the Palestinians. He gave public testimony on the talks while they were in progress, blaming Israel as the world’s media captured and disseminated his remarks.

After the talks collapsed, Kerry had an apoplectic fit furiously denouncing Israel while joyfully contemplating the inevitable creation of yet another Judenrein dictatorship that will be dominated by thugs and kleptomaniacs allied with zealots posing as ambassadors of the Almighty. Not once, did Kerry address the incongruity of negotiating with an entity whose political infrastructure of corruption, authoritarianism, and manufactured hatred made it devoid of legitimacy among its own people and incapable of implementing anything except the division of the next Western aid package among its cronies.

The faux negotiations cost Israel dearly, but they cost America even more because no Middle East government could ignore that the Obama administration jettisoned Israel as easily as it helped topple Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and as quickly as it betrayed the interests of both the Saudis and the Emirates in its pursuit of a nuclear deal with Iran that everyone knows will be ultimately breached.

The strongest lesson for Israel is that  a weak president, dismissed by his adversaries (witness Russian President Vladimir Putin’s imperialistic behavior), no longer trusted by his allies, and a man who has added the word “pink line” to the vocabulary of international relations will ultimately be incapable of enforcing any agreement.   

If the Americans conclude an agreement with Iran, who will enforce it when it is inevitably broken?  Can Israel trust its security to the incompetent, indecisive, puerile Barack Obama, whose true feelings toward the Jewish state were exposed by the conduct of his secretary of state?

The president has more than answered that question.  All the remains is for Israel to listen carefully and act accordingly.

Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati.  He has also served on the faculty of the University of California, Davis and the University of Illinois, Urbana.