The PJ Tatler

Kerry Needs to Learn How to Prioritize Foreign Policy Problems, Says Chairwoman

A key member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee urged Secretary of State John Kerry to take a break from trying to forge Middle East concessions and pay greater attention to imminent threats such as the state of emergency in Egypt.

“With the current turmoil in Egypt, the ongoing bloodbath in Syria, and Iran’s continued progress toward full nuclear breakout capacity, Secretary Kerry must prioritize U.S. national security interests and focus on the imminent threats facing the region, the U.S. and our allies,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairwoman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee. “The peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are quite important, but they should not be our first priority at the moment while other regional crises threaten to increase the already high tensions and further destabilize a region already on edge.”

Instead of Kerry being on the case, the State Department sent Assistant Secretary of State William Burns to work with Ambassador Anne Patterson — reviled by the real pro-democracy Egyptians for showing favoritism to Morsi — to meet with the Muslim Brotherhood earlier this month.

Kerry, meanwhile, has squarely focused on President Obama’s foreign policy pet project: restarting a Middle East peace process.

“The Israelis have consistently given concession after concession – releasing dozens of Palestinian prisoners with blood on their hands – while receiving nothing in return other than rockets from Gaza and a continuation of inflammatory propaganda from the Palestinian Authority. The only way there can be viable solution is for both sides to act as honest brokers seeking a true peace – something we have not seen under Abbas because it’s far more beneficial for him to preserve the status quo,” Ros-Lehtinen said.

“Yet even as Secretary Kerry’s team sits with the two sides as they again attempt to negotiate a settlement, next door in Egypt, the violence is reaching a boiling point as the already fragile situation is causing more deaths and instability. Interim Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei has resigned over the latest clash of violence that has resulted in the deaths of hundreds and the authorities in Egypt have declared a month-long state of emergency.”

The former chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee compared the administration’s attitude toward crisis in the Middle East to “worrying about an overdue library book as you’re being evicted from your home.”

“Instead of using what little political capital we have left on the peace process, the Administration should deal with the current situation in Syria, Egypt, and Iran, which more directly threaten U.S. national security interests in the region,” Ros-Lehtinen said.