From where did the information regarding draft of the Cease Fire agreement land on Israeli media outlets couple of days ago? The first reporter to air it was Barak Ravid from Haaretz. Was it a suggestion paper by the Egyptians only channeled through US officials to the Israeli to serve as point of reference? Or was it a paper endorsed by americans?
While it is uncertain that we will know the answer to that – from what I gather (while following on all parties including senior US & Israeli diplomatic reporters) – the spin machines and disinformation campaigns are raging more than ever. It is really hard to tell what side of story we should buy into.
Follow Tony Blinken, Deputy National Security Adviser telling reporters at the White House (Monday July 28th): “All the leaks were misinformed or part of an effort to misinform”
Some in the US are convinced that the above draft was explained to Israeli reporters by Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz. Being closely coordinated with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggests that his steps were approved and even arranged by Netanyahu.
@amirtibon trust am not only observer who suspects was steinitz who smeared kerry, diistorted US position, now doing this public speech?
— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) July 28, 2014
On Monday afternoon (Israel’s time), some officials here begun making amends. The Government Press Office (GPO) sent out invitations to foreign and local media to participate in an on line media briefing with Steinitz. He then said (of course) that two countries are BFF.
Intelligence Minister Steinitz shoots down criticism of US administration over Gaza: “US is our best ally – Congress and the administration”
— Amir Tibon (@amirtibon) July 28, 2014
But it did not create the best impression out there in DC. White House officials apparently think that Israeli officials smeared Kerry and mischaracterized US positions to Israeli reporters. Again, from what I understand the administration realized that Steinitz, whether on behalf of Netanyahu (or not on his behalf) briefed regarding the draft while not explaining that this was an Egyptian based paper. He probably went on to present it as the US stance, hence explaining why it was vehemently rejected by Israel’s security Cabinet. Another explanation might as well be: Israel indeed received this draft from US officials and rejected it as it was completely unacceptable.
The quick outcome: SOS John Kerry was bashed in Israel, deeply offended and Washington-Jerusalem sensitive relationship took another blow.
Here is how it was initially reported by AP (the story was later edited) : “officials said the criticism of Kerry could put the relationship between the U.S. and Israel in jeopardy.”
Addition (Tuesday July 29): Kerry on Netanyahu: “Netanyahu himself said to me, ‘Can you try to get a humanitarian cease-fire for this period of time?’ And if it weren’t for his commitment to it, obviously the president of the United States and I would not be trying to make this effort,” Kerry said. “Now either I take his commitment at face value or someone is playing a different game here, and I hope that’s not the fact,” he said.
Israeli Government, specifically its head, entered June 2014 in the worst relationship ever with the US administration. A long-year effort by Kerry were in vain. Netanyahu did not call Abbas even once throughout the year, not to mention face-to-face meeting. Frame negotiations to frame issues were emptied. Those negotiations will go down in history as a tiny footnote in the region’s bloody existence. They had no content, no context.
If it wasn’t enough for the non-negotiations, some of the Israeli ministers (Lieberman, Bennet) went out of their way to denounce Abbas. They blamed him for being inciter, holocaust denier. Abbas (according to them) exercised BDS-terror on Israel and Diplomatic-terror as well. The word “terror” was abused unprecedentedly, as realistic people here do not differentiate between awful terror and legitimate pressure. We got couple of reminders just now how real terror looks like.
Only after Abbas mouth-fully condemned the kidnapping of three israeli teenagers, went out of his way to talk about the holocaust, helped Israeli gather intel with respect to the kiddnapping and managed to keep the west bank quiet during the last few difficult weeks, we started to hear different voices emerging from Israel’s right wingers.
Jerusalem relationship with DC were damaged several times during recent years. Among other things: Israel got more indrawn and recalcitrant. Netanyahu was active member in assisting Romney against Obama on 2012, which pushed Obama even further from him.
Last couple of days chronicle (yet again) the chilled sentiments between the parties. This will not change. Obama will be right there right until January 2017. Maybe a lame duck, but a controlling duck. Netanyahu presumed to stick in until November 2017. Who knows. he may not survive as Prime Minister for such a length.
At 5 years and 3 months Obama & Netanyahu are longest overlap of a sitting US President & Israeli PM, surpassing Ben Gurion and Eisenhower. But what a couple. What they have not achieved in 5 plus years, they will not get done. Statesmen without a vision or horizon.
Who leaked and who better spinned? It does not really matter. Atmosphere is poisonous. Israeli ministers beat Kerry, behind his back, playing the un-named sources game. They are looking for revenge, god knows for what. Well, breaking news for the Israeli counterpart: Other than Obama and Netanyahu – Kerry is not going anywhere up until January 2017.