There is a scene in Don Quixote, a Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes that has the hero, Quixote, rushing off on his horse to slay a giant. The scene as imagined by Quixote is heroic, since it follows the chivalric code he believes he embodies. However, it is not heroic. Instead, the reader is let in on the secret. The giant is a windmill, Quixote is no knight, and his chivalry is misplaced in the reality that he refuses to recognize. A similar context applies to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his quest for peace in the Middle East between Israel and the Palestinians, highlighted with his comments on Wednesday as to the unsustainable situation.
Kerry’s statement is not a fresh revelation. The relationship between members of the ‘triangle for peace’: Israel, the PA, and Hamas has since 2007 produced an unsustainable status quo of small concessions from both the PA and various Israeli governments, with Hamas refusing serious negotiations instead firing rockets into Israel, resulting in no real solution to a permanent peace agreement. Nevertheless, the American Secretary of State is so committed to a final solution of the conflict during his tenure that he appears willing to use anyone in his efforts. Remember, it was he who during the summer war in Gaza, as Egypt was attempting to broker a cease-fire, went off to Qatar. Qatar who financially supports the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and financially supports those Muslim Brotherhood members in exile, such as Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal. It is Mr. Meshaal’s Hamas who control Gaza and before Operation Protective Edge, a poll by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy found that most Palestinians in Gaza oppose a two-state solution. This coincidentally is the solution the U.S. and Israel and the PA are trying to work out.
The Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas while attempting to form a unity government with Hamas, achieved in all but practice, since each parties contradictory statements and actions make it difficult to believe that real unity has been achieved; instead Mr. Abbas has worked against making peace with Israel by actively seeking discord within its West Bank residents and stoking international animosity against Israel. Yes, agreement on a two-state solution is acceptable, but only on conditions the PA wants.
Israel is not without blame. It too has made policy decisions i.e. settlement expansion and public statements from its various government ministers contradictory and often at odds with the stated aim of solving the conflict between itself and Palestinians.
However, the United States, represented by Secretary Kerry should be an honest partner. It has not been. America has been an active partner with each member of that triangle for peace. But each member has to be fully committed to the process. Each member has to be honest and willing to sacrifice. Unfortunately, in efforts to move the peace process towards productive and potentially successful outcomes, Secretary Kerry in action and word is tilting at windmills in a quixotic quest for what is currently unattainable.