U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has turned his schedule upside down to keep his three-ring circus from collapsing under his “peace tent” that he has weighted down with his fake smile and iron fist to save himself from looking like a diplomatic clown.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas are not so stupid as to let themselves be blamed for any failure to resume a charade of the resumption of the peace process after a hiatus of more than two years. That leaves Kerry doing cartwheels to get the monkey off his back.
Israel has insisted that there be no pre-conditions, which in today’s diplomatic acrobats would mean acceding whatever Abbas demands, such as a building freeze or accepting a future PA state on the “basis” of the old borders of Israel.
Abbas has insisted that the only thing to talk about is when Israel is ready to accept what he considers a de facto state based on all of his political and territorial demands that the United Nations General Assembly, which is in his pocket, has confirmed through a resolution that is non-binding but which gave the PA a free pass to sit on key U.N. committees such as UNESCO. Next in line is the International Court.
Kerry has brought in Jordan’s King Abdullah into the picture. He is on his knees before Washington because of the spillover of the Syrian civil war into Jordan and the kingdom’s own precarious state in the face of louder tremors from the Bedouin and non-Jordan Arabs (read: Arabs who fled from Israel.) Add to that the up and coming Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan and you come up with n explosive mixture that makes the king all the more dependent on the United States for help.
King Abdullah will do anything Kerry tells him to do, and it is in his own best interests to show himself as peacemaker by bringing the three-ring circus into his own court.
Netanyahu has two Israelis who are weighing him down. President Shimon Peres and “Minister of Peace Process” Tzipi Livni, like Kerry, have made as career out of “good will” concessions to the Palestinian Authority.
It is anyone’s guess what will come out of all this, but after wading through all of the trial balloons and media manipulation by the actors, Kerry clearly will be a lot less effective in other parts of the world if he is seen as a failure in the Middle East and cannot pin the blame on Abbas or Netanyahu for failing to resume direct talks.
The worst-case scenario for Kerry, if he cannot pull off a four-way stage show now, probably will be an agreement to continue talk about continuing to agree to talk about an agreement.
The circus must go on.