Former Secretary of State John Kerry has written a new memoir in which he addresses the complicated and sometimes fractured relationship that he had with Benjamin Netanyahu while attempting to forge a peace process in the Middle East with the Prime Minister of Israel.
According to The Times of Israel, Kerry’s upcoming book Every Day Is Extra describes how it was Netanyahu’s stated “willingness to make tough compromises” in order to create a stable region in the Middle East with the Palestinians that originally persuaded John Kerry to convince a highly “skeptical” President Barack Obama that it was worth engaging in dialogue to try and achieve a lasting peace between the warring factions.
In his new memoir, Kerry describes in vivid detail a conversation that he had with Benjamin Netanyahu in 2013 after Obama had just given a speech in Israel, in which Netanyahu warned the former Secretary of State that lies are endemic in the Middle East and that he should never take anything at face value.
“I met with Bibi at the King David Hotel. He looked me dead in the eye and said, ‘John, I’m willing to give this effort a try, but there are two things you should know: first, everyone in this region lies all the time and you Americans have a hard time understanding that; second, the most I can do may be less than the least Abbas could ever accept.'”
— The Times of Israel (@TimesofIsrael) September 1, 2018
John Kerry also recalled that “Bibi’s attitude was ‘I’m open to solving this problem if I can have all my needs met.’ That included his political needs with his coalition. Bibi was fond of saying, ‘Take all my excuses away.'”
Kerry’s positivity was severely challenged after Netanyahu decided he was not in favor of the peace plan that had been conjured up by US Gen. John Allen, who was strongly in favor of Israeli troops slowly stepping away from the West Bank.
Gen. Allen had planned to use U.S. troops to stand guard over what could have been a Palestinian state. However, Benjamin Netanyahu was not in favor of this and right before the meeting that was to be held with Kerry and Allen, Netanyahu decided that he was not in agreement with it and that Israeli forces were needed to patrol the West Bank. After this, John Kerry stepped back and came to realize that security wasn’t the real reason behind Netanyahu’s decision.
“It was now clear to all of us that Bibi was not interested in actually addressing the security questions in a way that could allow for the eventual withdrawal of the IDF. I concluded that this wasn’t about security.”
After this incident, John Kerry said he recognized that Obama felt Netanyahu wasn’t truly interested in the creation of a Palestinian state, but would still continue working with Israel on the peace process nevertheless.
In 2016 when the UN Security Council were planning to go through with a resolution that addressed Israel’s refusal to allow a Palestinian state, something which clearly violated international laws, Obama had the chance to veto this decision but did not, according to Kerry.
“We all understood the political firestorm we would face if we didn’t veto the resolution. There were some who argued for sucking it up because it wasn’t worth the political price. President Obama wasn’t willing to make a decision that he thought was counter to US interests simply because of the politics.”
John Kerry’s new memoir in which he addresses his relationship with Netanyahu will be released on September 4.