Was John Kerry for making settlements an issue before he was against it?


Adam Kredo at the Washington Jewish Week picks up a startling dissent from Obama administration policy from Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) at yesterday’s U.S.-Islamic Forum:

By repeatedly — and publicly — chiding Israel on settlement growth, Obama "wasted a year and a half on something that for a number of reasons was not achievable," Kerry said.

"I was opposed to the prolonged effort on the settlements in a public way because I never thought it would work," Kerry said. "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."

This is startling, because Kerry has until now — in his capacity as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee — been a reliable stalking horse for Obama administration foreign policy. What Kerry says in May, the administration is pitching in July, has been my experience.

Not only that, but Kerry particularly has proved a stalking horse on the settlements issue. Ali Gharib at LobeLog pointed out one relatively mild example to Adam, who updated his post, but in March 2009 — months before this reached "crisis" proportions in U.S.-Israel relations — I heard Kerry calling for actions against Israel for settlement expansion.


On West Bank settlements, Kerry said U.S. policy opposing expansion for decades has "existed on paper alone."

"Nothing will do more to make clear our seriousness about turning the page than demonstrating — with actions rather than words — that we are serious about Israel freezing settlement activity in the West Bank," Kerry said.

He refused to elaborate what actions except to say that he would bring them up in his meeting with Obama.

What is Kerry on about? Memories are short in this town, but not that short.

The first answer that comes to mind is that he’s reading tea leaves about the parlous state of Obama’s foreign policy, but fer vuss? I mean, why is he even looking at the bottom of his teacup? He doesn’t run again until 2014 — unless he’s considering a 2012 presidential run?

A slightly more complicated — nay, even conspiratorial — but less venal reading: Kerry is once again a stalking horse. The Obama administration is using him to signal to the Palestinians and to the broader Arab world that using settlements as a bludgeon will no longer cut it. By attacking Obama on the issue, Kerry makes the warning even more credible — I think?

Nu, Sen. Kerry? Lesh?

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