Egypt is in turmoil again. Syria is embroiled in civil war. Iran continues building a nuclear device. Militants in Iraq have killed more than 4,000 people so far this year, more than 800 of them in July alone, according to the aptly named Iraq Body Count.
And what is Secretary of State John Kerry's focus? It is the never-ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Again facing U.S. pressure, Israel has agreed to renewed peace talks. It rejected demands from the Palestinian side for withdrawal from "occupied" lands and the freezing of new "settlements" as preconditions, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did agree to release 104 Palestinian prisoners, most of them convicted of murdering Israeli civilians in terrorist acts, "in stages" and "in accordance with the circumstances of their progress" in the peace negotiations.
Let me assume the role of an Old Testament prophet and declare: There will be no progress, because the Palestinian side will accept nothing less than the complete annihilation of Israel and the removal of every Jew from what they regard as their land.
Let's put it in a way most people would understand. If you find a serial killer has broken into your home, would you negotiate with him, or would you defend yourself with your registered gun?
In announcing Israel's participation in negotiations, Netanyahu issued "an open letter to Israeli citizens." In it, he called those he would release from prison "depraved people." They are not likely to become less depraved after their release. Like most terrorists, there is a high probability they will rejoin the battle to obliterate Israel.
The prime minister also said: "In the next nine months, we will consider whether there is a Palestinian element opposite us that, like us, truly wants to end the conflict between us." Save your breath. There isn't, because the Palestinian definition of ending the conflict is simple: They win.
As for the promise that prisoners will be released should negotiations progress, let's see how that has worked in the past.
Middle East expert Daniel Pipes has listed some of them: In 1985, Israel exchanged 1,150 prisoners for three captured Israelis. In 2000, Israel exchanged 450 Arab prisoners for three Israeli bodies and one live hostage. In 2008, five Arab prisoners, including, writes Pipes, "the psychopath Samir al-Kuntar" and 199 Arab bodies were swapped for two Israeli bodies. And in 2011, 1,027 Palestinian prisoners were given up for one man, Gilad Schalit.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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