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GAFFNEY: John Kerry’s folly at Israel’s peril

Why urging concessions to enemies never works

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 23, 2013

In one of Team Obama's trademark Friday afternoon specials, Secretary of State John F. Kerry announced last week that his six rounds of shuttle diplomacy had resulted in an agreement to reconvene Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. As usual, the timing was appropriate for an initiative designed to garner favorable headlines, but that doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

It appears that Mr. Kerry has bought this "breakthrough" by bullying Israel into making further concessions to its Palestinian enemies, even before the talks begin. In exchange for nothing more than the Palestinians' agreement in principle to resume the talks, the Israelis will release some number of additional convicted terrorists. Never mind that the ones left in Israeli prisons after numerous releases are, by and large, those who have most successfully and violently attacked innocent civilians in the Jewish state.

If the Israelis once again pay this price, they must expect the same results: More hardened criminals unleashed to wage jihad against Israel — and against any Palestinian who might wish to make real peace.

The rapturous public welcome routinely accorded these terrorists makes clear that it is such warmongers, not the peacemakers, who are blessed in the radicalized West Bank. That is even more true in Gaza, where few defy the despotic and virulently anti-Israel dictates of the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestinian franchise, the designated terrorist organization Hamas.

For that reason, among many others, notwithstanding Mr. Kerry's ego-driven pursuit of negotiations, his purported "breakthrough" cannot produce progress toward a genuine peace. Inevitably, pressure will begin to mount all over again for further Israeli concessions.

This pattern was evident in the immediate aftermath of the latest Friday afternoon special. Unidentified Palestinian officials promptly put out the word that Mr. Kerry had, as The Blaze reported, given "Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a letter guaranteeing that new peace negotiations with Israel will be based on pre-1967 borders."

Israeli officials, including prominent politicians in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling coalition, have responded sharply. They deny any agreement to use as the basis for these talks a return to the indefensible territorial boundaries that have aptly been called "Auschwitz borders." So, the negotiations may founder before they begin.

But let's engage in a thought experiment. Just for the purpose of discussion, consider what would happen if Israel agreed to surrender territory on the West Bank and Golan Heights that provides a modicum of strategic depth to the otherwise incredibly vulnerable Jewish state?

One need look no further than the emerging correlation of forces arrayed against Israel. The unmistakable reality is that it is facing the prospect for the first time in a generation of actual or prospective enemies on every side, including potentially devastating attacks from the sea.

The most populous Arab state, Egypt, is convulsed by domestic unrest and a volatile confrontation between Islamists sworn to destroy Israel and a military that, in the past, has tried to do so repeatedly. The two nations' cold peace, enforced for decades by a demilitarized Sinai, is jeopardized as that desert peninsula is increasingly populated by al Qaeda and other jihadists itching to attack Israelis.

Syria is racked by civil war, in which the ultimate victory of either Iranian/Hezbollah-backed Bashar Assad or the Muslim Brotherhood-al Qaeda alliance is likely to pose threats to the long quiet, but now restive, Golan Heights. U.S. arming of the so-called rebels may or may not assure their triumph. But it surely will increase the danger that faction poses to Israel.

Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq are in various stages of destabilization at the hands of Islamists of assorted stripes. Turkey is in the hands of a particularly dangerous one, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who makes no secret of his hostility toward Israel and solidarity with its enemies. The Islamic republic of Iran is continuing to build the capacity to deliver an existential nuclear threat to Israel.

As the brilliant strategic analyst and author Mark Helprin pointed out in The Wall Street Journal last weekend, Israel no longer can take comfort in the "qualitative edge" in conventional armaments that previously enabled it to contend with numerically superior enemies: "Saudi Arabia's air force (soon 380 combat aircraft, primarily F-15s) is rapidly gaining on Israel (441 combat aircraft) in quantity and quality. Were the Saudis to take a Muslim-solidarity time-out with Iran and join Egypt, Syria and perhaps even Turkey to defeat Israel in an air war, it would mean Israel's death."

In short, this is no time for the U.S. government to be demanding that its most important, self-reliant and reliable ally in the Middle East make territorial concessions that will render it more vulnerable to attack from one, or more, of the aforementioned quarters. That is especially so given that such concessions have no prospect of translating into an enduring peace with all, or even most, of the Palestinians.

It is neither in the Israelis' interest, nor our own, that they weaken themselves further in the face of the region's burgeoning Shariah-driven religio-politico-cultural dynamic, one that is feeding their enemies' unrequited ambition to "drive the Jews into the sea."

Mr. Kerry's vainglorious diplomacy has done nothing to mitigate that dynamic. If anything, his sympathies and those of President Obama toward the Muslim Brotherhood are feeding it. We must not permit such folly to continue to intensify Israel's peril, and our own.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. was an assistant secretary of defense under President Reagan. He is president of the Center for Security Policy (SecureFreedom.org), a columnist for The Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated program "Secure Freedom Radio."

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