New rhetoric, same old policy

Right everybody, excitement over, nothing to see, move along there. After the visit to Israel by new, improved, Israel-loving President Obama, which was hailed almost as Theodor Herzl's second coming, it's back to more of the same old same old.

Secretary of State John Kerry has followed his boss into the region to revive that notable example of political vegetative state, the Middle East peace process. Surprise surprise - his plan bears a marked resemblance to the 2002 Saudi plan of unblessed memory, which proposed returning Israel to its militarily indefensible "Auschwitz" borders while enabling mass Palestinian immigration into Israel.

Kerry's visit underlines what was apparent from Obama's speech. For all his warm words, the President is still in the grip of the double-barrelled delusion that a two-state solution is not only achievable with Mahmoud Abbas, but also that this is the key to defusing other tensions in the region.

Both assumptions are absurd and dangerous. Abbas will not negotiate with Israel. Even after Obama told him the settlements were not the defining issue and should not stop him returning to the table, he wouldn't do it. Indeed, Abbas has made it crystal clear that, for him, the defining issue is ending Israel's existence as a Jewish state.

Obama’s love bomb seems to have charmed the Israeli public

Nothing Obama said in Israel suggested he now understands that. All that's changed are his tactics. He appears finally to have realised that his first-term bullying of Israel achieved nothing but humiliation at being outwitted by Benjamin Netanyahu. So now he's decided to try the reverse strategy of speaking sharply to the Palestinians and love-bombing Israel.

The second part appears to have worked like a charm on the Israeli public, who swooned as Obama declared Israel was the ancient homeland of Jewish people. Well thanks, Mr President! So good of you to correct your earlier falsification of history!

His strictures to Abbas, on the other hand, seem to have gone down like a bucket of cold sick in that quarter. Hardly surprising, since Abbas knows perfectly well that the US policy of hammering Israel over the settlements, while giving the Palestinians an effective free pass over incitement to hate Israelis, sponsorship of terrorism and reneging on treaty obligations, remains unchanged.

Abbas and the Obamabots are not the only ones stuck in this groove. Around 100 US Jews - declared friends of Israel - have now signed an open letter to Netanyahu. Despite listing the dismal facts of persistent Palestinian belligerency in the face of repeated Israeli concessions, they still insist that it is Israel that must make "painful territorial sacrifices" that they imagine will lead to equivalent Palestinian concessions. So they want Israel to weaken itself at a time of escalating dangers, and with the Palestinians making it clear they will not give an inch. With idiotic "friends" like these, who needs enemies?

But the biggest idiot seems to be Kerry. Trying to restart the peace process without any prior indication that Abbas would come to the table makes the US look weak and inept, and risks inspiring further violence to stir the poison pot. All this, moreover, when the region is increasingly descending into chaos and Islamisation, a malign process aided by Obama's strategy of encouraging "good" Islamist fanatics who want to destroy Israel, America and the west in order to defeat "bad" Islamist fanatics who want to destroy Israel, America and the west.

And it beggars belief that he is fiddling with the Palestinian issue while Korea is becoming a serious crisis and Iran is continuing to make progress in building its bomb.

Indeed, as the secretary of state risks being exposed as a prize chump, the biggest loser from his trip may well be America itself.

Melanie Phillips is a Daily Mail columnist

    Last updated: 10:45am, April 14 2013