WASHINGTON - Two days before US President Barak Obama lands in Israel, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said Sunday night he doesn’t see a great chance for a breakthrough in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, a US poll asking whether Washington should be involved in the negotiation process showed that Americans prefer that Obama stay out of the talks.
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The legendary secretary of state, who was instrumental in achieving a separation agreement between Israel and Egypt after the Yom Kippur War, was quoted on Bloomberg as saying “I’m not optimistic.” According to Kissinger, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the other Islamic parties in the region are not interested in a “just outcome” with regards to Israel.
“To have a meaningful Palestinian-Israeli agreement, the Arab world has to be prepared to guarantee and accept it,” Kissinger said. “The Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt is not ready to accept genuine coexistence.”
Henry Kissinger (Photo: AFP)
Kissinger's skepticism is also evident in a survey conducted by the ABC network and the Washington Post Newspaper. The survey showed that a majority of Americans are against US involvement in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
According to the survey, only 26% of those asked believe it is up to the US to take the lead in solving the conflict, as opposed to 69% who believe the US should let the two sides go it alone. Over the weekend, a survey was released showing support for Israel to be at an all time high, yet most Americans prefer this support be from afar.
Aside from the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, it seems rebellions in the Arab world are also a source of concern to Kissinger. The former secretary of state explains that opposition to dictators is not necessarily motivated by a desire for democracy, but made up by “many groups hostile to the existing government, but not necessarily for the same reason.”
Henry Kissinger and John Kerry (Photo: AFP)
In his opinion, the Syrian civil war is “not a fight of democracy against a dictator. It’s a fight of various ethnic groups for preeminence.”
Kissinger supports Obama’s decision to exercise caution in assisting factions of the opposition in Syria associated with extremist groups, and is against US soldiers in Syria.
He disagrees with current Secretary of State John Kerry, who believes there is the possibility to move forward in the peace process. Yet he agrees that “an effort should be made in order to see what is possible.”
At 89 Kissinger has not been active in US government since the 1970s when he served as secretary of state for two Republican presidents – Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Even so, his opinion is highly respected and sought after, with senior level US politicians routinely turning to him for advise and feedback.
Kissinger's skepticism, together with the experiences of Obama, lower expectations that the US president’s visit to Jerusalem, Ramallah and Amman will bring about significant progress in the peace process.
This is also the reason Kerry is not coming to Israel ahead of Obama, but rather with him. Kerry is expected to return to the Middle East during his time in office for further rounds of peace process talks.
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