There's an interesting story in Politico, where Senator John Kerry (D-Mass) criticizes Obama's handling of the Middle East peace process and then goes out on a limb and predicts a new Middle East peace push. I don't know if he's right or wrong about that, but the Senator indulges in a bit of revisionist history about his past views on the peace process. In particular, Kerry now says that he never thought it was a good idea to focus on Israel's continually expanding settlements in the West Bank.
I was opposed to the prolonged effort on the settlements in a public way because I never thought it would work and, in fact, we have wasted a year and a half on something that for a number of reasons was not achievable," Kerry told the U.S.-Islamic World Forum, organized by the Brookings Institution's Saban Center. "I think it sort of put the cart ahead of the horse in a way here. The key is to get to the security and borders definition and if you can get the borders definition you've solved the problem of the settlements. But we can't get that discussion right now."
The problem is that this isn't what Kerry was saying and doing back in 2009, when the Obama administration was trying in vain to get a settlement freeze. When Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu visited Washington that spring, he met personally with Kerry in the latter's capacity as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Here's what Kerry said about his conversation back then:
John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, began his remarks following his meeting with Netanyahu by saying, ‘I emphasized to the prime minister the importance of Israel moving forward, especially with respect to the settlements issue.'"As a good realist, I certainly don't expect politicians to tell the truth all the time. Maybe Kerry just forgot. Or maybe he really did think focusing on settlements was a mistake, but went along at the time as good team player. But I'm more inclined to think he was in favor of Obama's approach. ... before he was against it.
Kerry called the Palestinian effort to seek formal recognition at the United Nations a "mistake" on the part of Palestinian President Abbas that could backfire and have "dangerous" consequences in various countries in the region.
"I hope that a diplomatic initiative can in fact preclude unintended consequences but, believe me, everyone is well aware of those dangers of September and I think there will be a genuine effort to try to avoid things that you’re not initiating and controlling yourself," the senator said
Another panelist, Carter National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, said simply prodding Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate won't work because Israel feels too secure and the Palestinian leadership too weak.
"The problem will remain unresolved unless the United States steps forward," Brzezinski said. "I think it behooves the United states to step forward with a generalized framework of what the peace has to be."
If so inclined, you can view video of Kerry and Brezinski's comments after the jump. Pick it up around 1:04:45.
UPDATE: This post has been updated with the White House's non-reaction.