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Kerry's Folly, Israel's Peril

In one of Team Obama’s trademark Friday afternoon specials, Secretary of State John Kerry announced last week that his six rounds of -252791648shuttle diplomacy had resulted in an agreement to reconvene Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.  As usual, the timing was appropriate for an initiative designed to garner favorable headlines, but that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

It appears that Kerry has bought this “breakthrough” by bullying Israel into making further concessions to its Palestinian enemies, even before the talks begin.  In exchange for nothing more than the Palestinians’ agreement-in-principle to resume them, the Israelis will release some number of additional convicted terrorists.  Never mind that the ones left in Israeli jails after numerous previous releases are, by and large, those who have most successfully and murderously attacked innocent civilians in the Jewish State.

If the Israelis once again pay this price, they must expect the same results as before: More hardened criminals unleashed to wage jihad against Israel – and against any Palestinians that might actually wish to make peace with her.

The rapturous public welcome routinely accorded these terrorists makes clear that it is such war-mongers, not the peace-makers, who are blessed in the radicalized West Bank.  That is even more true in Gaza, where few defy the despotic and virulently anti-Israel dictates of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian franchise: the designated terrorist organization, Hamas.

For that reason, among many others, notwithstanding Kerry’s ego-driven pursuit of negotiations, his purported “breakthrough” cannot produce real progress towards a genuine peace.  And inevitably, pressure will begin to mount all over again for further Israeli concessions.

This pattern was evident in the immediate aftermath of the latest Friday afternoon special.  Unidentified Palestinian officials promptly put out the word that Secretary Kerry had, as The Blaze reported, given “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a letter guaranteeing that new peace negotiations with Israel will be based on pre-1967 borders.”

Israeli officials, including prominent politicians in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, have responded sharply.  They deny any agreement to use as the basis for these talks a return to the indefensible territorial boundaries that have aptly been called “Auschwitz borders.”  So, the new negotiations may founder before they begin.

But let’s engage in a thought-experiment.  Just for the purpose of discussion, consider what would happen if Israel did agree to surrender territory on the West Bank and Golan Heights that provides a modicum of strategic depth to the otherwise incredibly vulnerable Jewish State?

One need look no further than the emerging correlation of forces arrayed against Israel.  The unmistakable reality is that it is facing the prospect for the first time in a generation of actual or prospective enemies on every side, including potentially devastating attacks from the sea.

O The most populous Arab state, Egypt, is convulsed by domestic unrest and a volatile confrontation between Islamists sworn to destroy Israel and a military that, in the past, has repeatedly tried to do so.  The two nations’ cold peace, enforced for decades by a demilitarized Sinai, is jeopardized as that desert peninsula is increasingly populated by al Qaeda and other jihadists itching to attack Israelis.

O Syria is wracked by civil war in which the ultimate victory of either Iranian/Hezbollah-backed Bashir Assad or the Muslim Brotherhood-al Qaeda alliance is likely to pose new threats to the long quiet, but now restive, Golan Heights.  U.S. arming of the so-called “rebels” may or may not assure their triumph.  But it will surely increase the danger that faction poses to Israel.

O Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq are in various stages of destabilization at the hands of Islamists of assorted stripes.  Turkey is in the hands of a particularly dangerous one, Recep Tayyep Erdogan, who makes no secret of his hostility towards Israel and solidarity with its enemies.  And the Islamic Republic of Iran is continuing to build the capacity to deliver an existential nuclear threat to Israel.

O As the brilliant strategic analyst and author Mark Helprin pointed out in the Wall Street Journal last weekend (), Israel can no longer take comfort in the “qualitative edge” in conventional armaments that previously enabled it to contend with numerically superior enemies:  “Saudi Arabia’s air force (soon 380 combat aircraft, primarily F-15s) is rapidly gaining on Israel (441 combat aircraft) in quantity and quality. Were the Saudis to take a Muslim-solidarity time-out with Iran and join Egypt, Syria and perhaps even Turkey to defeat Israel in an air war, it would mean Israel’s death.”

In short, this is no time for the U.S. government to be demanding that its most important, self-reliant and reliable ally in the Middle East make territorial concessions that will render it more vulnerable to attack from one, or more, of the aforementioned quarters.  That is especially so given that such concessions have no prospect of translating into an enduring peace with all, or even most, of the Palestinians.

It is neither in the Israelis’ interest nor our own that they weaken themselves further in the face of the region’s burgeoning shariah-driven religio-politico-cultural dynamic, one that is feeding their enemies’ unrequited ambition to “drive the Jews into the sea.”

John Kerry’s vainglorious diplomacy has thus far done nothing to mitigate that dynamic.  If anything, his sympathies and those of President Obama towards the Muslim Brotherhood are feeding it.  We must not permit such folly to continue to intensify Israel’s peril, and our own.

Frank Gaffney JrFrank Gaffney is the Founder and President of the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C. Under Mr. Gaffney's leadership, the Center has been nationally and internationally recognized as a resource for timely, informed and penetrating analyses of foreign and defense policy matters. Mr. Gaffney formerly acted as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy during the Reagan Administration, following four years of service as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy. Previously, he was a professional staff member on the Senate Armed Services Committee under the chairmanship of the late Senator John Tower, and a national security legislative aide to the late Senator Henry M. Jackson.

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