„In the Obama administration’s waning days, global challenges to American interests abound. In Syria, which will be a bloody stain on the reputations of Barack Obama and John Kerry, the killing continues. The effort to free Mosul from ISIS is slowing. The rise of Iranian influence in the Gulf and the Levant, of China in Asia and the western Pacific, and of Putin’s Russia in both Europe and the Middle East, all continue. One might have thought any of these could be the subject of a final address by the president or the secretary of state.
But one would have been wrong. John Kerry delivered what is probably the last major speech of the Obama administration Wednesday, and its subject was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and especially the growth of Israeli settlements. So the Obama administration ends where it began: obsessed with Israelis and Palestinians as if their struggle were the key to peace in the entire region, and with construction of homes in settlements and in Jerusalem as if it were the major roadblock to a peace agreement. (…)
Kerry also had some practical suggestions about how life can be made better for Palestinians, for example by expanding their economic activities in Area C, which comprises 60 percent of the West Bank.
Had he focused on such practical steps for the last four years, had he made his case about settlement activity without the apocalyptic tone, and had he ever penalized the Palestinians for actually killing Israelis and then glorifying those acts, his arguments might be more persuasive and receive a larger audience than they will today. At this moment, they seem like the last defense of a policy that has achieved nothing except damaging bilateral relations.
Kerry presented himself as a devoted friend of Israel, but what came through far more powerfully was his complete failure to understand how progress could be made. He and Obama tried from the start to reach an impossible comprehensive deal (just as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush had done) rather than focus on the incremental progress that really might have been achieved. To call for such incremental progress, three weeks before he leaves office, is folly; he wasted four years and Obama wasted eight viewing such steps as ‚small ball‘ unworthy of great men such as they. Kerry’s speech called for ‚realistic steps on the ground‘ now to establish the path forward. If only he had said that in 2013 when he took office, or Obama had said it in 2009, progress might actually have been possible.“ (Elliott Abrams: „John Kerry‘s Final, Harmful Insult to Israel“)