Israel’s announcement last week of new homes for a southern Jerusalem neighborhood in an area claimed by the Palestinian Authority was the trigger that caused the blow-up in the American-led effort to extend peace talks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told a Senate committee Tuesday.
He told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that after Israel refused to release a fourth batch of terrorists, and then followed that decision with the housing tender in the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem, “poof, that was sort of the moment,” Kerry said. “We find ourselves where we are.”
Just like that, with a snap of the fingers, after eight months of charades in which the Palestinian Authority and Israel made no headway, in which Israel demanded that Mahmoud Abbas declare that Israel is a Jewish State, in which Abbas continued to negotiate not to negotiate, it went “poof”?
Kerry is the same man who a few days said it’s time for a “reality check.”
After his “poof” puff, Republican Sen John McCain of Arizona told Kerry that concerning the peace process, “It is stopped. Recognize reality!”
But Kerry can’t. When Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said a couple of months that Kerry is “obsessive” with the peace process and is “messianic,” he was 100 percent on the money.
Only a few days ago, after the “poof,” Kerry said he wanted to focus on rescuing his pet nightmare rather than try to blame one side or the other.
“Look, to be clear, over the last 24 hours, there have been unhelpful actions taken on both sides here, and we didn’t think it was a productive time for the secretary to return to the region,” U.S. State Dept. spokeswoman Marie Harf said. “But we’re not playing the blame game.”
That was five days ago.
Since then, Abbas has insisted there is no turning back the clock. He will go through with his requests to join 15 U.N.-related agencies. He justified the action, a violation of the rules of the game Kerry laid down eight months ago, by charging that Israel reneged on a promise to release the fourth batch of terrorists.
The real cause of the ”poof” that blew up Kerry’s Peace Talks Follies was his dangling the release of Jonathan Pollard as bait to get Israel to agree to Abbas’ terms for releasing more terrorists That is what “poofed” the Arabs, who were enraged at the idea of Pollard going free while arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti remains in jail..
The media parrots have forgotten all about that because it is more convenient to blame someone else, and guess who?
It no longer makes any difference what the facts are.
What matters is what they are perceived to be. So you can leave aside the fact that Israel and the Palestinian Authority were unable to agree on which terrorists to release.
And you can leave aside the fact that Israel made it clear, before “poof,” that any limited and unofficial building freeze, as part of a deal to extend peace talks, would not include Jerusalem.
Housing Minister Uri Ariel’s announcement of the new homes was the official stamp of that policy.
Kerry is desperate, and Abbas knows it.
That is why five days after he said he does not want to blame either side, he told the Senate hearing that, yes, the Palestinian Authority took an “unhelpful” action by its latest ploy for attention in the United Nations, but it was Israel that “poofed” his peace talks.
Spokeswoman Harf tried to cover up her boss’s diplomatic faux pas at the Senate hearing.
“Both sides took ineffective steps. Kerry is not playing the blame game,” she told reporters at the daily media question and answer session.