Kerry Told the Simple Truth

The Israeli public deserves a government that clearly admits it has no desire for a peace agreement.

Amos Biderman

One can only regret the American administration’s attempts, coated with praise for Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s government, to clarify and modify Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.

Describing the events leading to the collapse of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Kerry said Israel had not released prisoners as it had pledged to do as part of the agreement to resume the talks, and had then approved tenders for constructing 700 new settlement units in East Jerusalem (which followed other huge tenders for accelerated construction in the settlements).

Kerry refuted the spin issued by Netanyahu’s office — that the talks broke down because Mahmoud Abbas had signed applications to join Palestine to 15 UN treaties. Kerry said this move, which he described as “not helpful,” came in response to the Israeli violations of the agreement, not as an intention to sabotage the talks. So Kerry was right to blame Israel with blowing up the talks.

His words hewed to the simple truth. Throughout the negotiations, Prime Minister Netanyahu has been busy spreading fog around his intentions and inventing spin tactics aimed at avoiding any significant decision. Housing Minister Uri Ariel and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon have done everything they could to sabotage the talks. Finance Minister Yair Lapid made do with lip service to the peace process, while Justice Minister Tzipi Livni served as a fig leaf trying to cover Israel’s insincerity.

So instead of automatically blaming the Palestinians for the negotiations’ failure, they should ask themselves what their own part was in the foot-dragging and obstructionism in the talks, and how they helped create he pretense that Israel and the Palestinians are two state entities with equal military and economic status.

The Israeli public deserves a government that is candid with it and admits clearly that it has no desire for a peace agreement, and that its main motivation is to continue developing the West Bank settlements. In other words, it wants to continue the occupation and separate the Palestinians from their lands.

Once the government admits that, Israelis will be able to choose which kind of state they want to live in and which vision of a state they want to vote for – that of a democratic state that respects the rule of law and human rights and sees international relations as a vital asset, or of a messianic, separatist state with features of an apartheid regime, in which a privileged Jewish population rules over millions of Palestinians.

These are Israel’s options. Any other portrayal of them is a false one.