Yet last month, when renewed negotiations stalled over Palestinian objections to new settlement construction – which, it’s important to note, Israel never forswore – Mr. Kerry immediately adopted the Palestinian perspective: “[W]e consider now and have always considered the settlements to be illegitimate. The Palestinians believe that the settlements are illegal. The United States has said that they believe the settlements are not helpful and are illegitimate.”
Several days later, in a television interview, the secretary of state delivered an incredible follow-up, seemingly justifying any Palestinian violence that would result should Israel choose not to go along with the Palestinian position on settlements:
“If we do not resolve the question of settlements, and who lives where and what rights they have; if we don’t end the presence of Israeli soldiers perpetually in the West Bank, then there will be an increasing feeling that if you cannot get peace with a [Palestinian] leadership that is committed to non-violence, we may wind up with a leadership that is committed to violence…. The alternative to getting back to the talks is the potential for violence…. Does Israel want a third intafada?”
Congress has both the responsibility and the wherewithal – power of the purse, veto-proof legislation, resolutions, rallying public support – to stay the hand of even a president as determined as Mr. Obama to leave his imprint on history.