US Secretary of State John Kerry meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem June 28, 2013. (Reuters/Jacquelyn Martin)
John Kerry, secretary of state, is headed back to the Middle East again—not to Egypt, where the post-coup crisis is brewing, nor to discuss Syria especially, where there’s a civil war going on, but once again in pursuit of the elusive, Israel-Palestinian peace process.
It’s his sixth visit in just six months on the job. It’s always a safe bet to plunk down your chips on the gamble that the peace process is going nowhere, but let’s watch this week’s events carefully. You’d have to think that either Kerry is crazy—a not unreasonable assumption, if it’s true that he advocated bombing Syrian airfields and runways—or that he genuinely believes that he’s getting somewhere.
Benjamin Netanyahu, who appeared on CBS on Sunday, is ever trying to change the subject from Palestine to Iran, Egypt, Syria, anything else, and in yesterday’s telecast he had help from Bob Schieffer, who completely failed to ask a single question about peace talks. Back in 2009, Netanyahu did the same thing, when he first met with President Obama, saying “Iran, Iran, Iran” when Obama was saying “Palestine, Palestine.” By and large, Netanyahu succeeded in changing the subject during Obama’s first term, but Kerry seems obsessively focused on Israel-Palestine, and that may be a good thing. Nevertheless, in his CBS appearance, Netanyahu was back on message. Cynically dismissing Iran’s new, moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, as someone whose policy is “smile and build a bomb,” Netanyahu urged Obama to rattle some sabers:
I think it’s very important to make clear to them that you won’t allow them to have this weapon and to demonstrate that by action. That is, you can also make clear that the nuclear option which is—the military option which is on the table is truly on the table.
And of course he stressed that Iran, and not Palestine, is the thing we all ought to worry about: