It was bad enough that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposal to end the violence in Gaza. Now Kerry has been subjected to withering criticism in Israel for seriously trying to end the violence.
We’ve seen this movie before. Netanyahu has thumbed his nose at the Obama administration because he believed he could count on Congress, including Democrats, to undermine the administration.
But the thing is, we know that this movie could have a different ending than the Obama administration backing down under Israeli pressure. If enough Americans urged Kerry to continue to “stand tall,” he would.
If that seems unrealistic to you, just think what’s happened in the last few years on US policy toward Iran. The people who are now demanding that the United States march in lockstep with Netanyahu on resolving the Gaza crisis are the same people who demanded that the United States march in lockstep with Netanyahu on the question of Iran’s nuclear program. These people have failed so far in their efforts to blow up the US-Iran negotiations because enough Democrats rallied behind the administration to thwart the efforts of the Netanyahu amen corner to sabotage diplomacy.
If we could do this on US policy towards Iran, why couldn’t we do this with respect to ending the violence in Gaza and lifting the economic blockade?
In particular, Kerry has been slammed in Israel for including Turkey and Qatar in the negotiations. This is because including Turkey and Qatar in the negotiations is widely seen in Israel as signifying two things: 1) indirectly bringing Hamas to the table for negotiations to end the violence and 2) trying to lift the economic blockade of Gaza as part of an agreement.
Many of the times we’ve won on moving US policy toward diplomacy with Iran in the last few years happened when we weighed in with Congress on the side of the Obama administration when there was a split between the administration and the Israeli government. That’s what’s happening now: a split between the Obama administration and the Israeli government. We need to weigh in with Congress now. If we don’t weigh in with Congress, Netanyahu will think that he can pressure Kerry to abandon his efforts by turning to Congress to undermine Kerry.