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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Open Letter to President Obama: Keep Kerry Away From the Middle East

Dear President Obama,

Over the past five and a half years as President of the United States, you have routinely declared your support of Israel. On March 5, 2012 you stated:

"Our commitment to the security of Israel is rock solid. And as I've said to the Prime Minister in every single one of our meetings, the United States will always have Israel's back when it comes to Israel's security. This is a bond that is based not only on our mutual security interests and economic interests, but is also based on common values and the incredible people-to-people contacts that we have between our two countries."

Indeed, your willingness to fund the Israeli-developed short-range rocket defense system called Iron Dome has enabled Israel to withstand the current onslaught of more than 2,500 rockets fired from Gaza at Israeli population centers over the past three weeks. For this assistance, Israel is forever grateful.

However, if your support is "rock solid," why did your secretary of state initiate his efforts to achieve a cease-fire involving the current war between Israel and Hamas by traveling to Egypt? If Israel is indeed an ally, shouldn't John Kerry have begun his discussions by meeting with Israel's government in order to better understand its needs in this time of crisis?

John Kerry flew from Cairo to Tel Aviv, notwithstanding a ban on flights to Israel by America's Federal Aviation Administration, a move regarded by many in Israel as intended to place pressure on Israel to agree to the terms of a cease-fire being imposed proposed by Kerry. As you can well imagine, this ban threatened to choke off Israeli commerce at a time when Israel was desperately in need of support from its friends.

Prime Minister Netanyahu explained to John Kerry during his visit to Israel that the Israel Defense Forces had obtained intelligence that Hamas intended to attack Israeli agriculural communities via a network of tunnels during the upcoming Jewish High Holy Days, in order to take hostages back to Gaza. Ignoring this information, John Kerry proposed a week-long cease-fire that included:

  • Acceptance of Hamas demands for the opening of border crossings into Gaza, which of necessity would facilitate shipment of armaments to Hamas and Islamic Jihad;
  • The building of a seaport for Gaza, opening the way for the import of large advanced weapons systems, which, in the past, could not squeeze through the tunnels from Egypt;
  • The free flow of funds for Hamas from Qatar and Iran, despite the fact that Hamas is designated by the United States as a terrorist organization.

On the other hand, John Kerry's cease-fire proposal would have prevented Israel from continuing to destroy the Hamas tunnel network.

After Israel rejected the risible terms of John Kerry's proposed one-week cease-fire, Mr. Kerry traveled to Paris, where he engaged in discussions with diplomats from France, Britain, Italy and Germany, and also the foreign ministers of Qatar, which has been primarily responsible for funding Hamas armaments and tunnels, and of Turkey, whose prime minister welcomes Hamas visitors and regularly engages in anti-Semitic diatribes. Although Qatar and Turkey were allowed by Kerry to advocate on behalf of Hamas, Israel was prevented from attending the conference. Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, opponents of Hamas and also refused entry to Kerry's Parisian partie, are also furious with America's secretary of state.

John Kerry's conduct of these negotiations has created significant backlash in Israel. As reported by The Times of Israel (http://www.timesofisrael.com/kerry-completely-capitulated-to-hamas-in-ceasefire-proposal-says-israel/):

"Channel 2′s diplomatic reporter Udi Segal said 'voices' from the cabinet had described Kerry as 'negligent,' 'lacking the ability to understand' the issues, and 'incapable of handling the most basic matters.'"

Mr. President, you have stated that "the United States will always have Israel's back when it comes to Israel's security." Well today, we have learned that Kerry has once more acted behind Israel's back and promised Hamas a pay-off in exchange for its agreement to his cease-fire terms. Again, as reported by The Times of Israel (http://www.timesofisrael.com/kerry-told-hamas-many-of-its-demands-would-be-met-under-ceasefire-deal/):

"US Secretary of State John Kerry informed Hamas via Qatar last week that under his proposal for a ceasefire with Israel, based on the original Egyptian initiative, the US would guarantee the fulfillment of many of Hamas’s demands for an end to the war, Palestinian sources told The Times of Israel on Saturday.

. . . .

The guarantees promised to Hamas by Kerry under a ceasefire, as relayed to The Times of Israel by the Palestinian sources, pertain to the following issues: an easing of restrictions on the passage of goods from Israel to Gaza; an easing of restrictions on the passage of traders and businessmen from Gaza to Israel; expansion of the permitted Gaza fishing zone to 12 miles off the coast; the opening of the Rafah crossing with Egypt, to be manned by Palestinian Authority officials; and a promise to ensure the transfer of salaries to Gaza’s government employees."

I ask you, Mr. President, does John Kerry's behavior evidence "rock solid" support of Israel? Is this any way to treat an ally in a time of crisis? Please explain to me how Kerry's offer to Hamas does not amount to appeasement of a terrorist organization?

Mr. President, you appointed John Kerry as secretary of state, and it is for you alone to judge his diplomatic capabilities, as evidenced by his handling of the crisis in the Ukraine, Iran's nuclear weapons development program, and the negotiations he sponsored between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. On the other hand, Kerry's most recent communications with Israel concerning his cease-fire proposal can only be described as antagonistic, self-aggrandizing and destructive of America's longstanding relationship with Israel.

Mr. President, if you believe that John Kerry is advancing American overseas credibility, it is of course your prerogative to retain him as your secretary of state. On the other hand, if your support of Israel is truly "rock solid," please find someone else to engage in cease-fire negotiations involving the war in Gaza.

John Kerry is no friend of Israel.

Yours sincerely,
Jeffrey

1 comment:

  1. How can you restrain yourself? I continue to marvel at the calm and diplomatic tone you can muster. I would be lunging for this jugular.

    ReplyDelete