Editorial |

Kerry's Binational State Warning: A Wakeup Call for Israel

Netanyahu is dreaming of a Jewish state in the territories, while at the same time lying to and endangering Israel’s citizens by not clarifying the threat they face; will Israelis follow this pied piper into the abyss?

Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, leave the microphones after speaking briefly to the media before their meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, leave the microphones after speaking briefly to the media before their meeting at the Prime Minister's office in JerusaCredit: AP
Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in a panic. Israel, he believes, will turn into a binational state, which means war. If the international community is interested in preventing this, “Either we mean it and we act on it, or we should shut up,” he told a meeting of ministers from Palestinian Authority donor states.

It’s tempting to tease Kerry by saying, “Good morning John, where have you been until now?” One is prompted to wonder why the U.S. administration didn’t leverage the defense aid agreement that was just signed with Israel to bend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by making the aid conditional on progress on the diplomatic process. But criticism of the administration and its secretary of state, who worked nonstop to advance the peace process, would not only be unfair, it would unjustifiably excuse Israel’s recalcitrance.

The U.S. administration is not to blame for sinking the negotiations, nor is it its job to save Israel from itself. Former Secretary of State James Baker had a very clear opinion on this. “We cannot want peace more than you, the parties most directly affected by its absence,” he told Israel and the Palestinians at the close of the Madrid Conference nearly 25 years ago. A year earlier he had sarcastically recited the White House telephone number at a congressional hearing in a comment directed to Israel, adding, “When you’re serious about peace, call us.”

The Obama administration’s approach has been far from anything similar, but it, too, has come to the conclusion that its efforts won’t be effective given Israel’s resistance and the difficulties posed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Ostensibly Kerry was laying the blame on both sides, but a careful reading of the “indictment” shows that in his eyes, Israeli obstructionism, and in particular continued building in the settlements, far outweighs Palestinian resistance.

Kerry is a biased observer. The future of Israel is dear to him. He is offering Israelis a sober and realistic forecast. He is not inciting, as many will claim, when he urges his colleagues around the world to either do something or shut up. The citizens of Israel must see Kerry’s remarks as a clear and painful wake-up call aimed at them.

Netanyahu, who continues to peddle his hollow goods and promise a bright future, has managed until now to seal Israel’s borders against the infiltration of ideas, proposals and requests to conduct negotiations. Netanyahu is now counting on the Arab states to save him from having to negotiate with the Palestinians. The prime minister is dreaming of a Jewish state in the territories, while at the same time lying to and endangering Israel’s citizens by not clarifying the threat they face.

This is the time for Israelis to decide their fate, to listen to Kerry or to follow their pied piper prime minister into the abyss.

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