Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Mr. Kerry’s Old Rhetoric

by Elliott Abrams
March 19, 2013

In remarks he made just before leaving for Israel yesterday, our new Secretary of State indulged in some “old-think” and some outdated language about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Speaking at the State Department, he said this in answer to a question:

With respect to the Middle East peace process, the President, as you know, is leaving – I’m leaving tonight. He is leaving tomorrow. He will be meeting with the new government. I think we both want to join in congratulating the people of Israel on their selection of a new government, the formation of that government. And the President is really going to listen to the members of this new government and to hear personally from Prime Minister Netanyahu what he thinks the road ahead is. We hope that those words of the Prime Minister and others become a reality. Nothing could be more important to the future of the Middle East, to stability, to the removal of a major recruitment tool and organizing argument for people throughout the region who are extremists, than the ongoing confrontation and absence of peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

So the President understands the importance of it. The question is: Are the parties to this conflict prepared – both of them – to come to the table and negotiate in good faith and with urgency in order to try to resolve this? And once those conversations have taken place, the President will be in a position to evaluate that road forward. We obviously, after all of these years, approach this with continued hopes, but also with a sense of the reality of the difficulties that lie in the way and the need to renew our efforts.

Now most of this is the usual fare, and not much worthy of note–except for one sentence:

Nothing could be more important to the future of the Middle East, to stability, to the removal of a major recruitment tool and organizing argument for people throughout the region who are extremists, than the ongoing confrontation and absence of peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

Nothing? Really? Not an end to the war in Syria before it brings instability to Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan? Not an end to Iranian support for terrorism and to Iran’s nuclear program? Not a political evolution in Egypt that leads to stability there and leads Egypt to resume its place as a responsible leader working for regional peace?
One need not deprecate the importance of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to wish that the Secretary of State would avoid this kind of rhetoric. Given the political situation in Egypt and the lawlessness in the Sinai, the four million refugees from Syria and perhaps 70,000 dead there, the instability in Libya, the Iranian nuclear weapons program and backing for Hezbollah and for the Assad regime–none of which would be ameliorated much less resolved by an Israeli/Palestinian deal–the old argument that is the central issue in the entire region should be retired. The new Secretary should get some new rhetoric.

Post a Comment 2 Comments

  • Posted by Dean Smallwood

    The myopia continues .

  • Posted by Herb

    New Secretary of State,,same old story from Foggy Bottom ( with

    approval from BHO ).

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