Poof! John Kerry Blames Israeli Squatting in E. Jerusalem for breakdown in Peace Talks; Bennett: It’s Just Zionism

(By Juan Cole)

You heard it first here. I had argued on Sunday that that the actions and statements of the far rightwing Israeli Likud government had sunk the peace negotiations with Palestine.

Secretary of State John Kerry gave a similar narrative [my points 9 & 10] on Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for how the peace negotiations he had initiated between Palestine and Israel appear to have faltered, and it caused a stir. He said,

“In my judgment both leaders have made courageous and important decisions up until now. For Prime Minister Netanyahu to release prisoners is a painful, difficult political step to take, enormously hard, and the people of Israel have been incredibly supportive and patient in giving him the space in order to do that. In exchange for the deal being kept of the release of prisoners and not going to the U.N. Unfortunately, the prisoners weren’t released on the Saturday they were supposed to be released. And so day went by, day two went by day three went by and then in the afternoon when they were about to maybe get there, 700 settlement units were announced in Jerusalem. And poof! That was sort of the moment.”

Mondoweiss called it a possibly ‘historic’ admission.

Note that actually Kerry attributed the breakdown to two separate Israeli moves. One was to decline to release the remaining 25 or so Palestinian prisoners jailed before 1993, whose release had been agreed to in the Oslo Peace Accords (a pledge on which Israel reneged, as it did on the whole Oslo process), and which Israel had undertaken to free last August. The second was the announcement of 700 new squatter homes in Palestinian East Jerusalem by fanatical Israeli expansionist, Housing Minister Uri Ariel.

The State Department rushed to affirm that Kerry blamed both sides for the collapse of his talks, but he was pretty plain about what he thought actually happened.

The Palestinians had pledged to delay going to the UN and the International Criminal Court over illegal Israeli squatting on their land, in return for a firm pledge by Israel to release the 100 or Palestinians.

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett slammed Kerry for the admission, saying that Palestinians in the past had attempted to use violence to stop Israelis from putting their homes in East Jerusalem and surroundings, but had failed. Now, he said, such settlements are not ‘poof,’ they are identical to Zionism.

So Naftali Bennett thinks “Zionism” is identical to a set of war crimes in international law and requires disregarding the Geneva Convention of 1949 on Occupied Territories as well as disregarding a raft of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

It is difficult to see how any fair-minded person could avoid being “anti-Zionist” if this lawlessness, coercion and usurpation is what, as Bennett maintains, Zionism entails. (In fact, there are saner versions of Zionism, which is a form of nationalism like other nationalisms).

related video:

John Kerry: “I may Fail”

16 Responses

  1. “In fact, there are saner versions of Zionism, which is a form of nationalism like other nationalisms.” Zionism is not to be equated with nationalism because it justifies and defends a theocratic nationalism, which many nationalisms do not do. To equate it with most nationalisms is to treat something that is pernicious as common.

    • If you have a problem with religious nationalism, consider the Hindu nationalism of India’s BJP party, the Buddhist nationalists in Myanmar (who do violence to the Muslim Rohingya)…
      Religious nationalism is common.

      • If American patriots claim that Christians have a special right to discriminate against anyone who offends their faith, they’ve already opened the door for theocracy. What makes it religious nationalism is which factions in which faiths they choose to fight for. Because there is now a far-right faction in every American denomination, and they coordinate between themselves and the GOP and the Koch/Scaife/ALEC infrastructure to overwhelm our disorganized opposition.

      • @rjlynn: “Religious nationalism is common”.

        No other country that practices religious nationalism also receives $3.7 billion dollars/ year from the USA, has powerful lobbying groups working on their behalf in the U.S. congress and receives blanket diplomatic and military aid from the United States.

    • You seem to be objecting to a comparison to “most” nationalisms that Dr. Cole doesn’t make. “Nationalisms like other nationalisms” is not the same as “Nationalisms like most other nationalisms.” As is pointed out in other comments, a religious element of national identity is common, although certainly not universal.

  2. Netanyahu will continue his ethnic cleansing because he can. Israel is a client state of America but the American Political Class is a dependent of the state of Israel.
    With the Supreme Court’s legalization of secret bribery things are bound to get worse and I doubt if our next Prez will keep us from attacking Iran at Israel’s bidding.

  3. That was a very interesting video clip, Professor Cole, with that heated exchange between Secretary of State John Kerry and Senator John McCain. So bravo to you for providing it to us.

    Let me briefly preface my reactions and thoughts with some personal information. I served as a a medical corpsman in Vietnam. I have stated this countless times here when I post a comment on your blog. But that one year was the watershed moment in my life, and it remains the prism through which I view the world around me. I wish I could change that or come to terms with that, but I seem to be powerless over how the experience of war has profoundly changed me.

    I hate to state this but Senator McCain is an embarrassment to me as a fellow Vietnam veteran. He is always beating his little tin drum for war. And after what I saw at the base hospital that actually scares me. I know that is not too macho. But that’s my subjective truth when it comes to the issue of war. And I am getting bored to tears with this appeasement in Munich analogy that conservative politicians such as Senator McCain are always invoking when it comes to any foreign policy crisis.
    And Teddy Roosevelt’s “Speak softly and carry a big stick” runs a close second in cliches just behind the Munich appeasement. And I would also note that John Adams is the author of Senator McCain’s quote, “facts are stubborn things,” rather than former President Ronald Reagan, who did use that John Adams quote during a speech, in his address to the 1998 Republican National Convention. But to be fair, President Reagan did attribute this quote to John Adams in his speech. (By the way, I attributed that John Adams quote once or twice on other blogs to Ralph Waldo Emerson. But I finally googled it and found out I was wrong. So you can teach an old dog new tricks.)

    And even Secretary John Kerry bothers me, though I side with him in his exchange with Senator McCain. I am still a bit taken back and deeply disappointed he voted for former President George W. Bush’s resolution to go to war in Iraq. But I was glad when he stumbled into the peace talks in Geneva. We avoided another potential crisis with an intervention in the Syrian civil war. So as gauche and out of his depths he can appear to be, when he blurted out at that London press conference about how we could end the crisis in Syria if President Bashar al Assad gave up his chemical weapons and the Russians ran with it, at least we have negotiations over Syria rather than yet another military misadventure. So we got to the negotiating table in Geneva. Even though it wasn’t pretty. And that’s all that counts to me.

    Yet I understand how Senator McCain can be so pessimistic and negative and angry toward Secretary John Kerry. I learned when I was in therapy at the local VA clinic that Vietnam veterans are suffering from what is called “catastrophic thinking” when they view the world around them. It’s the residual affects of suffering from PTSD. I thankfully only have a mild case. But I’ve always thought that Senator McCain has a much worse case of PTSD. And who can blame him given what he had to endure as a POW at the Hotel Hilton? But that in no way excuses him always falling in on the side of the war hawks. But as I said many times to myself on the hospital ward when I saw how deeply were the physical and mental wounds on the grunts, There but for the grace of God go I.

    • I voted against McCain/Palin in 2008 because I suspected McCain’s primary desire was to start a war with Iran to show that we could win such a war, the way we were winning the Vietnam War and would have won it if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids.

  4. It appears that Norman G. Finkelstein is correct: As the US lacks the necessary domestic or geopolitical motivation to pressure Israel, a nonviolent, mass movement by occupied Palestinians –a third intifada — is most likely necessary to compel Israel to deal fairly.

    If the US has thus far “not compelled Israel to terminate the occupation, it is because of the efficacy and ruthlessness of the [Israel] lobby. Were it not for the pressure exerted by the lobby in the electoral arena and on public opinion, Washington might well have joined the international consensus supporting a full Israeli withdrawal…[However,] Washington will not order Tel Aviv to withdraw until and unless the occupation becomes a major liability for it.”
    link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  5. McCain punched Kerry in the stomach . And no McCain the U.S. did not give Iran the right to enrich. Iran has the right to enrich up to 20% because they signed the IAEA’s Non Proliferation Treaty unlike Israel. who has and continues to sign the NPT and the Chemical Weapons Treaty Israel sits on huge stockpiles of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons that are not inspected by the international community. McCain you are such a hypocrite

  6. (In fact, there are saner versions of Zionism, which is a form of nationalism like other nationalisms)
    Nations have defined borders but Zionist are busy jerking out of socket, every lever of power in every nation and organization of consequence and then we have the (Taco**live mas nations). And the”poof”is in the pudding ,Your link has no “poof”in it, just the same old song and dance of threats and innuendos. Headlines have changed and the hasbara machine, including the poofer’s department is spinning faster than the Iranian centrifuge. Don’t you know that P in the “poof” is for Palestine.

  7. “The State Department rushed to affirm that Kerry blamed both sides for the collapse of his talks, but he was pretty plain about what he thought actually happened.”

    The protection of the rhetorical Arab – Israeli symmetry is essential to our foreign policy. Kerry should know that. To keep the American public convinced that “Mideast Peace” is is the absence of “Mideast War”, and “Mideast War”, though confined to an area about the size of Massachusetts, is really a titanic battle of equals.

    Maybe Abbas should propose a 700 unit Palestinian enclave in West Jerusalem, with suitable checkpoints to prevent Israeli trespassing. Take the “Middle East Peace Process” out of the hands of warriors and three piece suits, and put it in the hands of real estate developers and zoning officers..

  8. Canadian blogger Jeff Wells at his Rigorous Intuition blog was inspired by the Israel/Hezbollah war to write a post about the assassination of Rabin. There was good reason to think a Rabin-led Israel would have followed Oslo in good faith to reach a peace a peace with Palestine after. There was good reason to think that the Israeli right wing thought so too. Wells goes into how powerful right wing forces within Israel designed and executed the Rabin assassination using Yigal Amir as their disposable “lone gunman”. The goal was to take over Israel in order to renege on Oslo in order to drive more violence in order to right-wingify the Israeli electorate.
    link to rigint.blogspot.com

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