Oren Kessler in Foreign Policy asks, “Why is John Kerry shuttling around trying to kick-start a Middle East peace process that no one wants?”
He proceeds to explain that in Israel:
It’s not just right-wingers who predict Kerry’s campaign is doomed. Barak Ravid of the progressive daily Haaretz dubbed the secretary of state “naive” and “ham-handed” for his efforts. His colleague Ari Shavit concluded bluntly that there was “no serious Israeli or Palestinian who thinks that the Kerry approach would work.”
And the Palestinians are in turmoil with the resignation of Salam Fayyad’s replacement and remain locked in partnership with Hamas. There is no indication Mahmoud Abbas has the will or ability to make a deal. As Elliott Abrams observes, Abbas again demonstrates the Palestinians are unprepared for peace by awarding another medal to another terrorist. (“It is part of a pattern. . . of honoring perpetrators of terror.”)
But Kessler never really answers the question: Why is Kerry fixated on the peace process? There are several possibilities:
1. He isn’t allowed to make any real policy (that’s done out of the White House) so he needs to find something to do.
2. He doesn’t want to be remembered in the Middle East as “the guy who coddled Bashar al-Assad.”
3. His efforts impress his Georgetown cocktail party friends.
4. He actually listens to the advice of Israeli President Shimon Peres, who lacks power and is widely derided in Israel, but is fawned upon by naive Americans.
5. If he stays away from calamities like Iran negotiations, Egypt, North Korea and Syria he is less likely to be blamed for them.
6. He still clings to the discredited theory of linkage, believing progress on the “peace talks” will solve the region’s other problems.
7. He didn’t understand Hillary Clinton was being sarcastic when she said, “John, go for it! Spend the next couple of years running back and forth. That’ll be a good use of your time.”
8. Teresa like shopping in Tel Aviv.
9. To get the job, he promised President Obama he’d do the talking with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu so Obama wouldn’t have to after one useless photo op trip to Israel.
10. He really has no clue what is going on there.
These are not mutually exclusive.