John Kerry Just Took A Big Shot At Israel, And It Backfired Spectacularly
Kerry also warned that the Palestinian Authority could collapse soon.
Yochanan Visser. December 7, 2015 at 11:16am
Secretary of State John Kerry drew the ire of many in Israel when he said during a speech at the Saban Forum in Washington that Israel world become a bi-national state if its current ‘trends’ continue.
Kerry also warned that the Palestinian Authority could collapse soon and called upon the Israeli government to prove that its support for the two-state solution is not just a slogan but part of a policy.
“If there is a risk the Palestinian Authority might collapse and Israel wants it to survive, shouldn’t Israel do more to help sustain it? Without the Palestinian Authority, Israel will be responsible for civil administration of the West Bank – it costs billions,” Kerry warned.
“Without the Palestinian Authority’s security forces, the IDF would be forced to deploy tens of thousands of soldiers to the West Bank indefinitely,” he added
He added that PA President Mahmoud Abbas feels great despair more than Kerry ever heard from him, but omitted that Abbas has recently admitted that he rejected the best peace offer a Palestinian leader ever received from Israel in 2008 when former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered the Palestinians a state on 99.5% of the so-called West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Kerry’s speech led to a flood of criticism by Israeli politicians and journalists. One of the politicians who took aim at Kerry’s remarks was Moti Yogev of the Bayit HaYehudi party.
“With all due respect and gratitude to our friend the United States, the reality has proven that all of John Kerry’s assessments and diplomatic actions in various sectors of the world were a series of mistakes and failures: in Egypt, Ukraine, Syria and also in Israel. His opinions and speeches are disconnected from the Middle Eastern reality,” Yogev said.
“There never was a Palestinian state here and there never will be. Our responsibilities in Judea and Samaria were and continue to be our security and the strengthening of communities throughout Israel, including the fabric of the lives of Arabs living here.”
“Part of the answer to terror is the certainty that we returned to Judea and Samaria to strengthen our hold on them forever,” Yogev added.
“The views of Kerry are cut off from the faith of Israel, from the security situation and responsibility,” Yogev slammed. “Our presence in Judea and Samaria is to guarantee the security of the state of Israel.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting to John Kerry’s warnings that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is trending toward a one-state reality by saying that “Israel will not be a bi-national state.”
“Israel will not be a bi-national state, but in order for there to be peace, the other side needs to decide if they want peace. Unfortunately, this is not what we are seeing.” The Israeli PM added that “the Palestinian Authority’s incitement continues.”
The most devastating critique to Kerry’s speech, however, came from David Horovitz, the editor in chief of the Times of Israel and one of Israel’s most respected journalists.
Horovitz responded to Kerry’s remarks with an alternative speech that he thinks Kerry should have given at the Saban Forum.
Below are excerpts taken from that alternative speech:
My friends, I can only begin with an apology. The Obama administration, and myself personally, invested extraordinary efforts in trying to foster Israeli-Palestinian peace. And we failed.
The failure is by no means ours alone. But we made mistakes. Too many. We should have known better. We could have done better.
This prestigious forum has become a place to speak candidly… It would be wrong of me, therefore, to start with anything other than an honest acknowledgement of where we went wrong, some self-criticism, if only in the hope that my experiences can help ensure that my successors’ efforts meet with more success.
I see Bogie Ya’alon, the Israeli defense minister, my good friend, out there in the audience somewhere. I see Buji Herzog, the opposition leader and another friend, is here too. And I say to you, and to all Israelis who share the knowledge that Israel must separate from the Palestinians — for Israel’s sake, for the sake of the Palestinians, for the sake of a Jewish democratic Israel — I say to you that, sadly, our administration failed to create a climate in the Middle East in which you could afford to make the territorial compromises necessary to end the conflict. We were unable to foster the wider stability you require in order to make those compromises.
We were short-sighted about the Arab Spring, wanting to believe that sheer people power would be enough to drive popular uprisings against tyrannies across the region toward the establishment of genuine, vibrant, abiding democracies. You Israelis warned us. You, in your ambivalence — delighted to see much of the Arab world demanding democracy, but only too aware that it was the Muslim Brotherhood in one guise or another that was best placed to capitalize on the chaos — you told us that, left alone, the heartfelt desire for change would be co-opted, abused by Islamist groups in country after country. And so it proved….
And now I should turn to the specifics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I know I have no need to lecture most of you in this room, and most Israelis beyond it, about the dangers of a failure to separate from the Palestinians. I know that you did not gather the greatest concentration of world Jewry into a narrow strip of land only to lose your Jewish majority, or subvert your democracy, by failing to find an accommodation with the Palestinians. I know, in short, that most of you recognize far better than I or any other well-intentioned outsider the imperative to find a two-state solution, the imperative to reverse the drift toward a single, inseparable Israeli-Palestinian entity between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
We, too, have played our part in prolonging the deadlock and exacerbating the tensions. We should have demanded more, and sooner, from Abbas in curbing the systematic anti-Israel miseducation in Palestinian schools and media, among spiritual leaders, and within his own PA and Fatah hierarchies. We should have made plain that there could and can be no “reconciliation” between him and the Islamist terror group Hamas. We should not have championed Abbas’s request — accepted by Bibi, under our pressure — to release from Israeli jails dozens of Palestinians involved in murder and the orchestration of murder, a move that vindicated terrorism.
We were complacent in drawing up what we wanted to believe were adequate security arrangements to facilitate an Israeli withdrawal from much of the West Bank. In a different climate, in a different era, perhaps…
We were short-sighted and unsubtle, too, in lumping together for criticism all Israeli building beyond the pre-1967 Green Line. By drawing no distinction between new homes in isolated settlements deep in the West Bank and those in large Jewish neighborhoods over the Green Line in Jerusalem, we alienated many Israelis who recognize the dangers of unlimited West Bank settlement and we pushed Abbas up a tree, for how could he allow himself to be seen as more sanguine than the United States about a new housing development in a Jerusalem neighborhood even he does not envisage as part of a Palestine?
Perhaps most importantly, we were complacent in drawing up what we wanted to believe were adequate security arrangements to facilitate an Israeli withdrawal from much of the West Bank. In a different climate, in a different era, perhaps our recipe of sophisticated fences and radar and intelligence and joint forces and more could have constituted a credible defense on Israel’s eastern flank. But not, I must now acknowledge, in the Middle East of today. The unpredictable, unstable Middle East. The Middle East in which, as Bibi was right to make clear in the summer of 2014, Islamist forces fill any vacuum, and in which adjacent territory is abused by terrorist tunnelers, bombers and launchers of missiles.
I must concede that had Israel bowed to the pressure brought by this well-intentioned administration and withdrawn from much or all of the West Bank — in the lauded interest of separation from the Palestinians — Israelis today would likely not be grappling with a rash of isolated stabbings and car-rammings. You would, rather, probably be facing a return of the suicide bombings of the Second Intifada, hatched in the Hamas and Fatah bomb-making factories in the heart of the Palestinian cities of the West Bank.
So greatly do we care for Israel, so deeply do we want to see our ally Israel guarantee its future as a Jewish democratic state, that we failed to internalize the dangers in pressing relentlessly for the necessary territorial compromise at a time when such a withdrawal is simply too dangerous for Israel to contemplate. We acted, I should stress, out of the most profound friendship and support. But we were wrong.
For myself, I pledge to use the short remaining time I have in office to assemble a global coalition to begin the strategic fightback against the death cult of Islamic extremism.
Friends, it is not easy to come to a forum such as this and deliver the kind of talk I have just given, as I am sure you will have recognized. I did so as a mark of my respect for you, and in accordance with my lifelong commitment to your well-being. I deeply regret the inability of the United States, including on my watch, to help foster the kind of climate in your region that would enable you to take the steps you know you have to take in order to guarantee the future that you want for yourselves, your children and, yes, for your neighbors.
I do not believe that all is lost. I hope my successors can find a path to restore some kind of stability in Syria. I hope they will act more effectively to prevent Egypt falling back into the embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood. I hope the international community can learn from Israel in acknowledging the name and scale of Islamist terrorism, and in defending against it.