Obama may be in two minds over Kerry’s Israeli-Palestinian peace mission

John Kerry and the boss

John Kerry and the boss

The give-and-take over an Israeli-Palestinian accord, doggedly kept afloat by US Secretary of State John Kerry, is resolving itself into a complex dynamic depending heavily on personalities and their interrelations.

Kerry needs to overcome reservations in President Barack Obama’s White House team; Israel’s A-team – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon – are not of one mind on the issues; Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’s popular base is infamously flimsy. The over-heated war of words between Jerusalem and Washington did not erupt in Israel’s A-Team. It came from a second-string cabinet member, Minister of the Economy Naftali Bennett, who was challenged by two fellow members, the senior negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid. Yet Secretary Kerry reacted emotionally to aspersions, some of them imagined.

His warning of a boycott and international isolation threatening Israel if his initiative failed, struck a sensitive nerve and was interpreted as an attempt at intimidation. But no responsible Israeli ever accused him of anti-Semitism – as US Ambassador Dan Shapiro claimed in a radio interview Friday, Feb. 7. The words of a member of Bennett’s party may have been interpreted as such, and he quickly took them back.

The spoof parodying Kerry as scattering ridiculous concessions to the Palestinians was mild compared to the savage political satire routinely targeting Israeli politicians. It could have been laughed off. But by repeatedly rushing to the Secretary’s defense over a couple of remarks by a minister, frustrated by his exclusion from the negotiating loop, the State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki made a mountain out of a molehill. So where does the US-Israeli-Palestinian peace process go from here?

Breaking new diplomatic ground, Kerry is pressing the Israeli prime minister and Palestinian leader to submit in writing their views and reservations on the US positions he put before them in private, one-on-one conversations. He proposes to embody their comments in a non-binding paper to be the framework for further negotiations. ……[lire la suite]


Obama may be in two minds over Kerry’s Israeli-Palestinian peace mission

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