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Gwynne Dyer: Even the magnificent John Kerry likely can’t bring a peace deal on Israel and Palestine

!"! "ecretary of "tate John Kerry has had some l#ck easing tensions of the conflict in "yria b#t he likely won’t have the same s#ccess with Israel and the Palestinian territories! !"! DEP$%&'E(& )* "&$&E by GWYNNE DYER on FEB 5, 2014 J)+( KE%%, +$" been !"! "ecretary of "tate for precisely one year- and he has already ./ resc#ed President )bama from his ill0considered promise to bomb "yria if it crossed the 1red line2 and #sed poison gas3 4/ opened serio#s negotiations with Iran on its alleged attempt to b#ild n#clear weapons3 and 5/ taken on the 6ob of brokering an Israeli0Palestinian peace accord!

Getting )bama off the hook was #sef#l- and may yet lead to the !"! ending its s#pport for the ins#rgency in "yria- which at this point wo#ld probably be the least bad

o#tcome! )pening negotiations with Iran was long overd#e- and makes the nightmare prospect of an $merican or a 6oint !"!0Israeli air attack on Iran less likely! 7#t even King "olomon and $vicenna 8Ibn "ina/- sitting 6ointly in 6#dgement on the Israeli0 Palestinian disp#te- co#ld not broker a peace accord there! Kerry is indefatigable! +e has been to Israel9Palestine eleven times in the past yearand spent as m#ch as a h#ndred ho#rs face to face with Israeli Prime 'inister 7inyamin (etanyah#- Palestinian leader 'ahmo#d $bbas- or their close advisers! nlike all the previo#s 1brokers2- he has been asto#ndingly discreet: not a hint of what has been said in private has leaked into the p#blic domain! $nd yet there is almost no hope of a real peace deal! If persistence in the face of all the odds were eno#gh- Kerry wo#ld be the man who finally made it happen! 8Israeli Defence 'inister 'oshe ,aalon recently complained that his approach is 1obsessive and messianic!2/ 7#t Kerry has no leverage: he has to rely on the desire of the two leaders to make the 1peace process2 work- and it 6#st isn’t there3 not- at least- on any terms that both wo#ld find acceptable! &he list of deal0breakers incl#des almost every topic #nder disc#ssion: the borders of a Palestinian state- the f#t#re of the Jewish settlements in the occ#pied territorieswhether Jer#salem can be the 6oint capital of Israel and Palestine- whether Israel can maintain a military presence in the Jordan :alley- the right of Palestinian ref#gees to ret#rn to their ancestral homes- and Israel’s demand that the Palestinians recognise it as an e;plicitly Jewish state! &his last demand- which was only raised in the past co#ple of years- seems deliberately designed to be #nacceptable to the Palestinians! (ot only are they re<#ired to acknowledge the legitimacy of the Israeli state 8which they have already done/- b#t also to give their blessing to the ethnic and religio#s character of that state! It is not normal in diplomacy for one state to comment #pon the internal arrangements of another- let alone to give them its p#blic s#pport! Even the nited "tates- Israel’s closest ally and s#pporter- does not officially recognise it as a 1Jewish state!2 &he Israeli demand is an attempt to r#b the Palestinians’ noses in their defeatand why wo#ld yo# set o#t to do that if yo# really wanted a deal= &he Palestinian insistence on a 1right of ret#rn-2 however rooted in nat#ral 6#stice- is e<#ally self0defeating in practice! Everybody knows that a peace deal m#st mean compensation for the ref#gees of .>?@ and their descendants- not a general right of ret#rn to what is now Israel- for that really wo#ld mean the end of the 1Jewish state!2 7#t no Palestinian leader has ever dared to say so o#t lo#d! "o why- then- has John Kerry embarked on his <#i;otic mission to make the 1peace process2 work= It has been effectively dead for at least a doAen years- altho#gh it remains #nb#ried beca#se the pretense that it is still alive allows everybody to avoid hard decisions! 7#t Kerry- with his nine0month deadline to achieve a comprehensive 1final0stat#s agreement2 8which e;pires in $pril/- is taking it serio#sly! +is own e;planation is lyrical b#t opa<#e: 1I believe that history is not made by cynics!

It is made by realists who are not afraid to dream!2 7#t the b#siness abo#t 1making history2 B that- perhaps- is sincere! Kerry has had a long and interesting career as a senator- and even took a shot at the presidency- b#t this is probably his last big 6oband he wants to make his mark! $s the reality of what he is #p against strikes home- he has scaled back his ambitions a good deal! *or some months now he has been talking abo#t a more modest 1framework2 deal by $pril that wo#ld establish a set of basic principles for f#rther talks! "#ch deals commit nobody to anything- and are therefore a pop#lar way of pretending to make progress- b#t he’ll be l#cky to get even that! &he *rench general Pierre 7os<#et- watching the s#icidal charge of the 7ritish Cight 7rigade in the Drimean Ear in .@F?- said: 1It is magnificent- b#t it is not war! It’s madness!2 Kerry’s foredoomed <#est for a final peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians is magnificent too- in its own pec#liar way- b#t it’s not diplomacy! It’s h#bris! Posted by &havam