Try as he might, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will have a hard time avoiding having any influence on the Israeli elections.
The decision late last week not to support a Palestinian initiative for a timetable for Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines was a case in point.
No sooner was the news out than the Labor-Movement campaign was taking credit for it.
Washington was said to be fending off Palestinian moves at the U.N. on the advice of Tzipi Livni and former president Shimon Peres.
Kerry has been saying that the U.S. must scrupulously avoid interfering in Israeli internal politics. In fact, one European diplomat was quoted as saying that Kerry “has been very, very clear that for the United States it was not an option to discuss whatever text [on a two-state solution] before the end of the Israeli election.”
Kerry, according to a report in Foreign Policy, said U.N. action now would “give more impetus to more right-wing parties, that there was a risk this could further embolden the more right-wing forces along the Israeli political spectrum.”
In this instance, however, it was the center-left which was emboldened.
“It is possible to protect Israel’s security interests with proper diplomatic policies, something that could happen only if [Labor chief Isaac] Herzog and Livni will form the next government,” a campaign statement said.
But one government official pointed out that the credit might belong elsewhere. Noting that Netanyahu met Kerry in Rome on Monday and raised Israel’s strong opposition to the U.N. moves, “people should be careful about what they take credit for,” he said.