Attempting to secure the Congressional vote required to confirm President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran has necessitated Secretary for State John Kerry pledging Obama's "rock solid" diplomatic support and increased military assistance for Israel – the bitterest opponent of Obama's Iranian proposal.
Speaking at the National Constitution Center on 2 September – Kerry said:
And diplomatically, our support for Israel also remains rock solid as we continue to oppose every effort to delegitimize the Jewish state, or to pass biased resolutions against it in international bodies.
I take a back seat to no one in my commitment to the security of Israel, a commitment I demonstrated through my 28-plus years in the Senate. And as Secretary of State, I am fully conscious of the existential nature of the choice Israel must make…
If Kerry is to be seriously believed then he must reassure Congress – irrespective of its vote on Iran - that the commitments made to Israel by President Bush in his letter dated 14 April 2004 supporting Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza will be scrupulously adhered to by the current Obama administration.
Kerry unequivocally supported those Presidential commitments when interviewed by Tim Russert on Meet the Press on 18 April 2004:
RUSSERT: On Thursday, President Bush broke with the tradition and policy of six predecessors when he said that Israel can keep part of the land seized in the 1967 Middle East War and asserted the Palestinian refugees cannot go back to their particular homes. Do you support President Bush?
Those commitments included:
- Preventing any attempt to impose any plan other than President Bush's Roadmap envisioned by him on 24 June 2002.
- Being strongly committed to Israel's security and well-being as a Jewish state.
- Understanding that an agreed, just, fair and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement would need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel.
- Accepting as part of a final peace settlement that Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338.
- Acknowledging that in light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it would be unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations would be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949,
Bush's commitments were overwhelmingly endorsed by the House of Representatives 407-9 on 23 June 2004 and the Senate 95-3 the next day ("the Bush/Congress Commitments").
Obama attempted to water down these commitments in 2011 by suggesting possible Israeli land swaps be made for any territory Israel acquired in the West Bank.
Kerry piggybacked Obama in 2013 - inducing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to resume negotiations with Israel with this letter:
Dear Mr. President
In response to your question regarding our position on the issue of borders, this letter is to confirm that the position set forth by President Obama in his May 2011 speeches, that Palestine's borders with Israel should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, still represents our position. As negotiations begin, I reiterate our commitment to this position. As you confirmed, this letter is and will remain private and confidential between you and me."
Playing such furtive games with Abbas contrary to the Bush/Congress Commitments is now surely over following Kerry's statement. Those commitments are set in concrete - binding all American administrations including Obama's.
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