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Two inconvenient truths for Kerry

There's just no getting around Hamas and the need to recognize Israel as the Jewish state

The final kaddish prayer for Israel’s national hero, Ariel Sharon had barely been uttered, and Prime Minister Netanyahu had to rush to do damage control over Defense Minister’s Moshe Ya’alon’s comments in Yediot Aharonot labeling US Secretary John Kerry “messianic” and “delusional” when it comes to Israeli/Palestinian talks.

But even without this latest controversy, it was probably time to say kaddish for Mr. Kerry’s frenetic push for peace was as well.

For two reasons.

First, Palestinian Authority President Abbas rejected Israel’s core demand that its neighbor recognize her as a Jewish state. Over the weekend, as Israelis prepared for Sharon’s funeral, they learned from PA Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Malki that nine Arab foreign ministers would tell Mr. Kerry that they too backed Abbas’ rejection.

Secondly, Arik Sharon’s death itself exposed the elephant in John Kerry’s waiting room of diplomacy: Hamas.

Many of the moving tributes to the warrior, patriot, and politician, touched on the most controversial decision of his storied career: The stunning decision in 2005 by then Prime Minister Sharon to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza.

For years, the Right loved Arik Sharon, dubbing him the “bulldozer for good” for helping to establish Jewish communities from the Golan Heights to the West Bank, greater Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. They helped build the constituency that would catapult him to prime minister. His shocking 180 degree move to unilaterally hand over the Gaza Strip to Palestinians and forcing 9,000 Israelis to evacuate their homes turned Israeli politics on it head, leaving his loyal supporters utterly traumatized and betrayed.

Sharon was always a decisive game changer. Clearly he was convinced the Gaza gambit would help change the climate towards peace. In the short run, he was proven dead wrong. Gaza was delivered on a peace platter to the Palestinians and all Israelis got in return were thousands of Hamas rockets that continue through the day of his funeral. Having children in Sderot and other southern communities growing up traumatized by missiles and terrorist attacks were clearly never part of Ariel Sharon’s vision. Nor was having Tel Aviv within 40 mile range of Iranian-supplied missiles. Sharon’s stroke robbed him of the opportunity to react to the devastating results of his decision but one thing is clear: The warrior- politician would have taken responsibility for his actions and to point to one unintended but undeniable consequence of that disengagement: The unilateral evacuation of 9,000 Israelis and the no-strings attached gifting of territory to the Palestinians lay bare a brutal truth for all Israelis, left, right, and center — that no matter how many diplomats try to spin it, Gaza is living proof that too many Palestinians, starting — but not ending — with Hamas, are unprepared to accept a Jewish State as their neighbor.

Genocidal Hamas is rarely refered to by diplomatic peacemakers. But in 2014, what Israel is really being cajoled into doing is not accepting a two-state solution, but a defacto three-state solution. Its American friends have been blunt with Israel — forcing the release of scores of murderers as a ‘painful but necessary gesture’ to the other side, on the Settlements, on Jerusalem, even on returning to the 1967 borders and accepting some Palestinians under a right of return. But where is the US’s tough love when it comes to telling the Palestinians: There can be no peace deal unless the rule of Hamas in Gaza comes to an end. And that Arabs are not the only ones who need ‘gestures’. Israelis have the right to expect that their neighbors begin to show a modicum of respect and recognition for their Jewish narrative.

Ariel Sharon was a courageous and intuitive leader, who often was the bearer of inconvenient truths. While his voice was stilled eight years ago, had he lived, Sharon would have delivered this truth to President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry: there will be no three state solution. If the PA wants its state, it needs to get rid of Hamas – and not by having its leaders dress up as faux-diplomats. And Mr. Abbas must finally announce in Arabic to his constituents that the Jewish people have a right to pursue their national destiny alongside a peaceful Palestinian state.

This article was coauthored by Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

About the Author
Rabbi Abraham Cooper is Associate Dean and Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Global Social Action
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