Secretary of State John Kerry shuttled between Bethlehem, Amman, and Jerusalem over the past few days. He’s intent on brokering a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians. His entourage sped through the streets of Jerusalem, clogging traffic and racing between Israel’s president’s home, the prime minister’s residence, and the David Citadel Hotel.
Despite all his best efforts will he succeed?
For those who have followed the “peace process” for years, the statements of the latest U.S. secretary of state ring hollow. Not because of any lack of sincerity on Kerry’s part, but the phrases seem reminiscent of the last secretary of state and the one before that … and so on. “Confidence building measures” … “historic opportunities” … “painful concessions for peace” ….
Here’s one of Kerry’s latest statements:
“I'm convinced from my conversations today with Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, as well as President [Mahmoud] Abbas, that this is not mission impossible, this can happen. It will require both leaders to make big historic difficult decisions, but I'm also convinced that those are decisions that are absolutely totally in the interest of their country, Israel, and their country-to-be, Palestine.”
But does Kerry know what the “… country to-be, Palestine” means for many Palestinians?
For example, had he read a recent speech by Mahmoud Abbas:
"All our holy places are still under occupation, and so far we have not liberated one inch of Palestinian land. All Palestinian land is occupied -- Gaza is occupied, the West Bank is occupied, the 1948 lands [i.e., Israel] are occupied and Jerusalem is occupied.”
Does he know that Palestinians over and over have stated -- in Arabic -- that their struggle with Israel is not a territorial issue, but religious doctrine?
Here’s an excerpt from Dateline Jerusalem -- a new book by this author -- that explains why Kerry may never succeed:
One of the PA’s messages is that the whole of Israel, not just the West Bank, is Palestine. For example, a PA-produced documentary shows that Acco, the Sea of Galilee, Haifa, and Jaffa are Palestinian lands, all currently part of modern-day Israel. This message buttresses the Islamic belief that land once under the control of Islam can never be relinquished to the “infidel.” This belief puts Muslims under a religious obligation to win back that land. The fact that Jews hold sway in Palestine makes the affront that much more injurious. With this kind of indoctrination, [Itamar] Marcus [of Palestinian Media Watch] despairs of a true peace between Israelis and Palestinians. When the PA raises a whole new generation of Palestinian children with the idea Jews stole their land, that all of Israel is theirs, and they have a religious obligation to take back the land, peace will be virtually impossible to achieve.
Marcus says, “It’s part of the great deception. To the world they say it’s a territorial war. To their own people they say it’s a religious war for Allah. If it’s a territorial war, you can compromise on territory. But if it’s a religious war, you’re prohibited from compromising.”
And if there are no consequences or change within the PA, Marcus believes peace will remain elusive.
“If that doesn’t happen, there is no peace process, even if they’re meeting in Jordan or meeting any place else, it’s not a real peace process. As our book title says, it’s just a deception process.”
But does Kerry know about this “deception process?”
Given Abbas’s statements and the pervasive incitement in official Palestinian media, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Abbas can agree to recognize a Jewish state, cease to demand all the “settlements” in the West Bank be dismantled and sign a final agreement with Israel.