Paul Alster
Israel-based print and broadcast journalist

Kerry’s really lost the plot!

Poor old John Kerry. The shame of it. The utter shame of it.

On Saturday, Israel’s cabinet and government as a whole was furious at the news that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, under pressure it would seem from his international terror sponsor friends in Qatar, had reportedly been persuaded to adopt a farcical, lop-sided ceasefire agreement drafted by the oil-rich nation, the most dishonest broker in the whole Middle East.

That all changed this evening when Kerry issued a statement revealing a stunning and cringingly embarrassing 180 degrees U-turn, distancing himself from the Qatari initiative and apparently returning to adopt the only sensible option on the table; the ceasefire terms presented by Egypt.

In his statement Kerry said, “Any process to resolve the crisis in Gaza… must lead to the disarmament of Hamas”, a very different position from his reported offer to Israel less than two days before in which there had been no mention of disarming Hamas.

“We are trying to work hard to see if these issues can be clarified in a way that allows Israel and the Palestinian Authority and… the other countries involved, working through the Egyptian initiative, to be able to find a way to silence the weapons long enough to be able to negotiate” the Secretary of State added.

Why is Kerry so trusting of the Qataris when time and again they have proved to be a duplicitous, manipulative entity, acting consistently against U.S and western interests? 

Even as Kerry sat down with other international diplomatic colleagues in Paris this weekend to consider Qatar’s plan, the U.S. was evacuating staff from its embassy in Libya which had once again come under threat from Islamist rebels. Those rebels are allegedly backed by Qatar, long accused of meddling in Libya’s internal affairs, as it does in so many other countries in the region.

*Qatar, owners of the Al Jazeera network, was the main financial backer and promoter of the now fallen Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, a government endorsed by both Kerry and President Obama.

*Qatar provides funding for many of the ISIS terror groups in Iraq, vicious terrorists who force local Christians to convert to Islam or be beheaded and also mercilessly kill thousands of other Moslems;

*Qatari-backed rebels have also killed tens of thousands in Syria and continue their fight to fully establish the Sunni caliphate across Syria and Iraq;

*Tuareg Islamist rebels, financed by Qatar, continue to cause chaos, plundering and murdering in the name of Islam in Mali;

*Qatar, according to Saturday’s Telegraph in the UK, has reportedly signed a deal with North Korea to acquire “missiles and communications equipment that will allow them to maintain their offensive against Israel”;

*And, of course, Hamas, financed these days to a great extent by Qatar, continues to fire thousands of indiscriminate rockets into Israel and has its own people of Gaza in a terror stranglehold.

Five ceasefire agreements have been systematically broken by Hamas, who, according to statements given by captured fighters, had been planning the mass murder of hundreds of Israelis during the forthcoming Jewish New Year holiday by emerging from the hidden tunnels and slaughtering innocent civilians. Nice then of Mr Kerry to suggest giving Hamas’ terror cells a break to celebrate their Ramadan festival of Eid at the expense of Israel continuing to neutralise its tunnel and rocket facilities.

Despite all the evidence clearly implicating Qatar in all manner of nasty goings-on, this week the U.S., in its wisdom, sold $11 billion of state-of-the-art Apache attack helicopters and Patriot and Javelin air-defence systems to Qatar!

What hold does Qatar have on the U.S. that allows it to brazenly evade being exposed for the international terrorist sponsor it clearly is?

Many in Israel have long been concerned that the Obama administration, and in particular John Kerry, have failed to grasp the enormity of the fight against terror that Israel is waging, whether it be against Hamas and Islamic jihad in Gaza, against Hezbollah and its 100,000 warheads facing Israel from south Lebanon, or from Al Qaeda affiliates in Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, and even to some extent, in the Palestinian Authority-governed West Bank.

Why is America giving Qatar and its blustering buddy Turkey free rein to portray themselves as peace mediators when nothing could be further from the truth?

“Qatar obviously cannot be a mediator since it has no contacts with Israel since severing its relationship with us in 2009” Yigal Palmor, chief spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry told me last week.

“Basically the only game in town is the Egyptian ceasefire plan. Egypt has contacts with all relevant parties and a presence on the ground” Palmor added, advice that Kerry might now well wish he had heeded.

Could it be because Qatar hosts the strategically significant US air base on its territory at Al Udeid that Kerry chooses to turn a blind eye to its sponsorship of international Sunni Muslim terror? Could it be for economic reasons? U.S. companies such Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Exxon Mobil, Conoco Philips, and many others, have a mass of highly lucrative deals with Qatar, even though Qatar was the country that hosted a number of 9/11 terrorists, allowed a Taliban office to open in its capital Doha, and has granted sanctuary to a series of high-profile Islamist terror figures, including Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, without being brought to book.

On March 14 this year, David Cohen, the U.S Treasury undersecretary, stated publicly, “Qatar, a long-time U.S. ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas, a group that continues to undermine regional stability.  Press reports indicate that the Qatari government is also supporting extremist groups operating in Syria.  To say the least, this threatens to aggravate an already volatile situation in a particularly dangerous and unwelcome manner.”

Yet Kerry was still prepared to toddle along with the Qatari-Turkish – let’s just call it Hamas – ceasefire proposal, until pressure from Israel, and doubtless elsewhere, forced his shamefaced U-turn today.

To some extent what lies ahead in this latest Gazan war is unpredictable. The only thing cast-iron and apparently beyond argument, is that in the eyes of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, and others, any lingering credibility John Kerry had before the debacle of the last few days has well and truly gone beyond recall.

He’s an embarrassment.

Paul Alster is an Israel-based journalist who can be followed on Twitter @ paul _ alster and at

About the Author
Paul Alster is an Israel-based broadcast journalist with a special interest in the Israel/Palestinian conflict and Middle East politics. He is a regular contributor to a variety of international news websites including The Jerusalem Report, and was formerly's main Middle East correspondent. He can be followed on Twitter @paul_alster or at
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