Israelis don’t scare easily, Mr. Kerry

Abbas is in no position to commit to ending the conflict.

Moshe_Arens_cropped-150x150By Moshe Arens

Before leaving Israel for Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry tried his best to scare the hell out of us. In a television interview with an Israeli and a Palestinian reporter he warned that unless Israel reaches an agreement with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas it will be isolated in the international community, and, what’s more, will face another intifada. There you have it – sign on the dotted line, or else. More bad news for Israel came from Geneva, after his arrival there.

Actually, as Kerry knows only too well, the “international community” is not what it was 30 years ago, nor is it what it is made out to be by those trying to frighten Israel into giving in to Abbas’ demands. Europe is not what it used to be, and the European Union is struggling to stay afloat. The anti-Israel voices emanating from the Brussels bureaucracy of the EU do not necessarily reflect the policies pursued by the leaders of the European nations, while the eastern European nations who are members of the EU continue to pursue a policy of friendship and cooperation with Israel.

But more significantly, Europe is rapidly being overtaken in importance by China, India and Russia, none of which give any indication of wanting to isolate Israel if the negotiations with Abbas are not successful. Quite the contrary. Each, pursuing its own interests, seeks to enhance cooperation with Israel, especially in the areas of science and technology.

And of course, as Kerry knows only too well, the United States, still and for years to come the most important country in the world, continues to pursue a traditional policy of friendship and alliance with Israel.

That the U.S. Congress would participate in a campaign to isolate Israel is unimaginable. When Canada and Australia, both ideologically allies of Israel, are added to this evolving picture, it is clear that the threats of Israeli isolation are far-fetched and possibly even in the realm of wishful thinking.

Surprisingly, Kerry was lent a helping hand by none other than Ya’akov Amidror, Israel’s outgoing national security adviser. In a arewell address to the cabinet last week, he too harped on the theme that unless Israel reached an agreement with Abbas it would find itself isolated. Israel must take very seriously the threat of an economic boycott, he said. Whereas Kerry surely knows better, Amidror, who knows the map of the Middle East well from his previous military career and should by now be well acquainted with the global map, certainly should have known better.

As for the specter of renewed Palestinian violence against Israeli civilians – another intifada – in the event the negotiations with Abbas do not succeed, that is quite another matter. We have been through two intifadas, and we have succeeded in putting them both down. We have shown that terror can be defeated. It is a lesson that has been absorbed by those Palestinians who engaged in and supported terror activities – including Abbas himself, who in the past supported Palestinian terrorism.

This terrorism essentially ceased long before the negotiations began. Anyone who thinks these negotiations can advance in the shadow of the threat of renewed terrorism if Abbas’ demands are not met is grossly mistaken.

Everyone concerned, including Kerry, must remember that Abbas represents barely half of the Palestinians and is in no position to commit himself, on behalf of the Palestinians, to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In that sense the negotiations are no more than make-believe. To attempt to scare Israel into agreeing to Abbas’ demands at this point is certainly not conducive to the continuation of these talks. They are in any case unlikely to lead to any positive conclusion, and it is best to let them take their course.

Most important of all, somebody forgot to tell Kerry that Israelis don’t scare easily.

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