For the first time since the latest devastating Israeli assault on Gaza that left over 2,100 Palestinians dead, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Wednesday with Palestinian negotiators. He later called the talks “constructive.”
The meeting followed a phone call between Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which the former expressed his concerns over Israeli plans to take some 988 acres of land from the West Bank for settlement building – the largest land grab since the 1980s.
Although Kerry has shown genuine concern for the peace process, he is perhaps verging on delusional if he thinks his talks with Saeb Erekat and co. were constructive. For that would ignore the overriding problem: the belligerent, stubborn and dangerously arrogant policies of the Israeli leadership.
His talks in Washington with Palestinian negotiators may well have been positive. But as long as Israel maintains its position toward the peace process, nothing is going to change. Not only does Israel have no regard for achieving peace, it actively throws any hope for a détente off course, at each potential stage for optimism grabbing more land or killing more Palestinians.
It is hard to imagine that Netanyahu put down the phone after his conversation with Kerry feeling threatened, or that he began to doubt himself and his actions or America’s unwavering support. Kerry may well have expressed his “concerns” to the premier, but Netanyahu knows full well that land grab or no, with a sitting duck president in the White House, he can continue to count on financial, military and ideological support from the U.S. Until this wavers, “constructive” talks will lead nowhere.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 05, 2014, on page 7.