It’s time for Secretary of State John Kerry to take stock of his obsessive and peripatetic efforts to get Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. It is an obvious fool’s errand that demeans our diplomatic image around the world.
It should be clear by now to Mr. Kerry that President Obama, badly bruised during his first term in the contretemps stemming from his narrow focus on Israeli settlements and his “ ‘67 lines” gambit, is not all that interested in expending his own time, energy and political capital on the issue and has likely given the assignment to Mr. Kerry as a way to keep him busy and out of Washington.
Moreover, it is fairly obvious that Mahmoud Abbas is in no hurry to negotiate with Israel when he has found those easy pro-Palestinian majorities in the UN more to his liking. Indeed, why should he risk the ire of his fellow Arabs by agreeing to negotiate without preconditions, as demanded by Israel, when that would effectively mean relinquishing concessions on issues he has already received from the U.S.?
As for Israel, in light of the continuing region-wide upheavals, how can it rely on commitments from Arab leaders, even if sincere, when those leaders face the very real possibility of being unceremoniously replaced by men who would never honor any previously-agreed-to agreement with Israel?
Mr. Kerry’s approach is both hopelessly naïve and ineffectual, and it comes at the very time President Obama seems to be trying to bring some measure of competence and consistency to his administration’s policies.