Secretary of State John Kerry was in Jerusalem today determined to ram through a Mideast peace deal despite recently spurning Israel on the Iran nuclear deal and pressing forward without the cooperation of half of the Palestinian territories.
Kerry and President Obama are both desperate to make the forging of some peace plan a legacy issue, and Kerry quickly jumped into the task after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — who was reportedly critical of Obama’s stance toward Israel — left the post.
Hamas not only dismissed Washington’s fresh push for talks over the summer, but welcomed Kerry by firing at least three rockets from Gaza into Israel over the past five days.
“I know that you’re committed to peace, I know that I’m committed to peace, but unfortunately, given the actions and words of Palestinian leaders, there’s growing doubt in Israel that the Palestinians are committed to peace,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in remarks with Kerry at his side before their meeting.
“A few days ago in Ramallah, President Abbas embraced terrorists as heroes. To glorify the murders of innocent women and men as heroes is an outrage. How can President Abbas says – how can he say that he stands against terrorism when he embraces the perpetrators of terrorism and glorifies them as heroes? He can’t stand against terrorists and stand with the terrorists. And I’m wondering what a young Palestinian would think when he sees the leader of the Palestinian people embrace people who axed innocent men and women – axed their heads or blew them up or riddled them with bullets – what’s a young Palestinian supposed to think about the future? What’s he supposed to think about what he should do vis-a-vis Israelis and vis-a-vis the state of Israel?” he continued, referring to the 26 Palestinian prisoners released by Israel as a good-faith gesture toward restarting negotiations.
“So it’s not surprising that in recent weeks Israel has been subjected to a growing wave of terrorist attacks. President Abbas didn’t see fit to condemn these attacks, even after we learned that at least in one case – I stress, at least in one case – those who served and are serving in the Palestinian security forces took part in them.”
Netanyahu continued to pour a reality check on Kerry’s plans, adding that “in the six months since the start of peace negotiations, the Palestinian Authority continues its unabated incitement against the state of Israel.”
“This Palestinian Government incitement is rampant. You see it in the state-controlled media – the government-controlled media – in the schools, in textbooks, in kindergartens. You see it at every part of Palestinian society. So instead of preparing Palestinians for peace, Palestinian leaders are teaching them to hate Israel. This is not the way to achieve peace. President Abbas must lead his people away from terror and incitement, towards reconciliation and peace,” he said.
“I’m determined above all else to defend my people and my state, and I will never compromise on the security of Israel and its citizens and on the vital interests that protect our future,” Netanyahu vowed.
The Israeli government delayed the announcement of bids for new settlement construction until after Kerry leaves the region; the Obama administration hotly opposes any new settlement construction, and the Palestinians have threatened to take the construction to the International Criminal Court.