Dershowitz: Kerry Has Done All He Can for Mideast Peace Deal

Friday, 25 Apr 2014 04:11 PM

By Joe Battaglia

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Secretary of State John Kerry has done an admirable job attempting to negotiate peace between Israel and Palestine, but his efforts have been undermined by the overall weakness of President Barack Obama's foreign policy, renowned attorney Alan Dershowitz says.

On Thursday, Israel suspended U.S.-sponsored peace talks with the Palestinians in response to President Mahmoud Abbas's unexpected alignment with the rival Islamist Hamas group.

Harvard Law School professor Dershowitz, author of the book "Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law," told J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV that he "has nothing but praise for … John Kerry" for his attempt to broker peace between the two sides.

"He's devoted so much effort to this, you've got to give him an A-plus for effort," Dershowitz said. "Nobody else has been able to do this. George Mitchell, who's probably the world's greatest negotiator, who brought about the Northern Ireland peace treaty, was not able to do this. It's very, very difficult, but you couldn't have a better person in there trying hard. I know, because I know Benjamin Netanyahu has tremendous respect for John Kerry.

"He's the guy who can bring something about if there's a will on the part of the Palestinians to do it, but what's happened is the Boycott Divest Sanction movement, which is spreading around college campuses, has made it more difficult for the Palestinians to come to the negotiating table and make peace because they think they may get a better deal if they wait.

"But they're not going to get a better deal, and the BDS movement has made it much more difficult to bring about peace, as have the United Nations' actions because it's given the Palestinians what they want without demanding of the Palestinians that they give anything in return."

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Stoking the hopes of the Palestinians, according to Dershowitz, is the aura of weakness exhibited by President Obama in his dealings with Iran, Syria, and more recently with Russia's hostilities in Ukraine.

"Russia is flexing its muscles, and the Palestinians are saying, 'Hey, Russia is flexing its muscles, maybe that weakens America. Maybe it puts it where we're better off not making peace. The situation is changing geopolitically,'" Dershowitz said. "So even what's going on in Ukraine has an impact on what's going on in the Middle East. The world really is flat, and there are single elements to it, and the Obama administration has unfortunately shown weakness. We need a strong president, in a bipartisan way. We need a strong foreign policy, and that will help bring about peace, as well."

Dershowitz believes the peace process will resume only when the Palestinians are ready to make concessions.

"It was a tactic used by Abbas that backfired," Dershowitz said. "He thought that the threat to do it would bring Israel to giving into some of the demands of the Palestinians, but it's backfired, and you know, for there to be peace the Palestinians have to come and say, 'Look, we are prepared to give up the right of return, we're prepared to allow for Israel security to be protected.' Israel can't accept another Gaza.

"Israel left the Gaza, left it unilaterally. It said, 'It's yours, folks.' It left behind all the farm equipment, the hot houses, the agricultural. The Palestinians could've turned Gaza into another Singapore, but instead they turned it over to Hamas, and there have been rocket attacks virtually every month, sometimes daily, and Israel can't do the same on the West Bank because the West Bank is very close to the major airport, and if Hamas or radicals take over on the West Bank, they could bring Israel to an economic halt by ending tourism, by ending commerce. So Israel has to protect its own security, and the United States supports that."

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