Jewish Daily Forward columnist J.J. Goldberg posted “Kerry’s ‘Naïve’ Peace Bid: Who Got the Last Laugh?” on Sunday, speaking up for Secretary of State John Kerry’s dogged effort to get peace talks started, now finally bearing fruit. Goldberg punctures three “myths” in defending Kerry’s mission:
Myth 1: The Arab League and its peace initiative are irrelevant to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Kerry’s highly visible recruiting of the Arab League’s peace initiative monitoring committee, first in Washington in April, then in Amman last week, sent important messages in two directions. First, the April meeting, where the league announced that it would accept land swaps to include the settlement blocs, encouraged Israeli moderates (and weakened hardliners) by increasing awareness of the little-known initiative, showing the secondary benefits of a peace agreement and indicating that a compromise would have broad backing in the Arab world. Second, the Amman meeting last week provided the cover that Abbas and the Palestinians needed to move toward Kerry and close the current deal.
Myth 2: The European Union’s mini-sanctions on funding to settlements would upend the peace effort. The June 16 Haaretz report of new European Union rules, barring scientific or cultural grants to Israeli institutions operating in the settlements, evoked outcries across the Israeli political spectrum. Politicians on the right called the new rules “racist” and vowed to continue building in the settlements. The left called it a wakeup call about the danger of continuing the occupation, but protested that the decision would hurt movement toward peace and encourage extremists…. As Haaretz diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid reports today, the European measures actually helped move the peace talks forward by convincing Netanyahu—with a little prodding from Kerry—that the status quo was worsening Israeli isolation and leading toward a dangerous delegitimization of Israel. That convinced Netanyahu to offer just enough, when combined with some serious prodding by Kerry and encouragement from the Arab League, to bring the Palestinians back to the table.
Myth 3: America and its partners can’t want peace more than the parties themselves. That adage, which probably originated with Bill Clinton, was meant to minimize the role that American and European pressure could play in forcing Israelis and Palestinians into an agreement that neither of them wanted. Underlying it is the assumption that it is Israelis and Palestinians who bear the consequences of their dispute…. In fact, though, it’s been clear … that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has real-life consequences for others, including the United States, and so Washington has an urgent interest of its own in resolving the conflict, separate from what the parties want. …
America isn’t the only outside party with a compelling interest in resolving the dispute. Saudi Arabia led the Arab League to adopt its peace initiative in 2002 because of Saudi concern that the continuing Israeli-Palestinian dispute was strengthening Arab radicals, undermining regimes and threatening the region’s stability. European leaders have been alarmed for years about the destabilizing impact of increasing radicalization among Muslim immigrant populations on the continent. . . . [Click here for entire article.]