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Kerry’s Mideast folly

After his spectacular, but predictable, failure to move forward the “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinian side, Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States will now “evaluate” its role in the Middle East.
Let me help: The peace process in the Middle East isn’t working and it can’t work when one side — that would be the Palestinian leadership — has no intention of settling for anything less than their ultimate goal of removing the Jewish people from the region.
Kerry’s cynical ploy suggesting that convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard could be released from prison in exchange for even more Israeli concessions was another indication of how desperate he is to get something — anything — to work.
The Palestinian side, indeed the entire Arab and Muslim world, watch this and can only conclude that America is weak and lacks resolve. And they would be right to think so. If anyone can define American foreign policy in the Middle East or anywhere else, please write me.
So much evidence over so many years should prove to anyone who is not in complete denial what the Palestinian side seeks. It is the destruction of Israel, which they believe is their divine mandate. Diplomacy has yet to be developed that can overcome an edict from “God” who commands the eradication of his “enemies.” How do American and Israeli diplomats, who are regarded by fundamentalist Muslims as “infidels,” negotiate with such a mindset?
Duplicity is an ancient tradition in the Middle East. The history of the region is full of examples of Arabs and Muslims saying one thing to the West and something quite different to their own people.
The latest example of this doublespeak comes by way of the Middle East Media and Research Institute (MEMRI), a nonprofit press monitoring organization based in Washington, D.C., Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently told Israelis visiting Ramallah that he did not wish to flood Israel with Palestinian refugees and their descendants. “That is nonsense,” said Abbas, “and what was written in the Israeli press is untrue.”
When Abbas spoke to a Palestinian audience, notes MEMRI, he said, “The right of return is a personal right. No country, authority, organization, or even Abu Mazen (Abbas’s other name) or (other) leaders can deny anyone of his right.”
So the question becomes: If Abbas does not have the authority to deny the “right of return” of Palestinians in a flood tide that would demographically overwhelm Israel, why are we negotiating with him? In fact, since according to Abbas no one has that right, why are we negotiating at all?
What about that vaunted “two-state solution” Kerry and those who have gone before him think is the holy grail of Middle East peace? The Palestinian side pays lip service to the notion when speaking to the West, but tells its own people it favors a one-state solution without Israel.
On Jerusalem, according to MEMRI, Abbas told an Israeli audience that Jerusalem would not be divided in any future peace agreement, but would have two municipalities with an appropriate coordinating body.”
To Palestinians, however, Abbas promised: “Occupied Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine, since without it there will be no solution. No one is authorized to sign (such an agreement).” He added, “Without East Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital there will be no peace between us and Israel.”
There are many more examples of such doublespeak, so many they could fill a book, but you get the point. Too bad Secretary Kerry, President Obama and numerous presidents and secretaries of state who have gone before, don’t.

Cal Thomas’ latest book, “What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America,” is available in bookstores now. Readers can email him at tcaeditors@tribune.com.

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