John Kerry is upset by heavy criticism from Israelis — left, right and center — of his recent cease-fire diplomacy. But that's only half the story.

More significant is the consternation of America's Arab partners, starting with the president of the Palestinian Authority. Mahmoud Abbas was stunned that Kerry would fly off to Paris to negotiate with Hamas allies Qatar and Turkey in talks that excluded the PA and Egypt.

The talks also undermined Egypt's cease-fire proposal, which Israel had accepted and Hamas rejected. "Kerry tried through his latest plan to destroy the Egyptian bid," charged a senior Palestinian official quoted in the Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat — a peace plan that the PA itself had supported.

It gets worse.

Kerry did not just trample an Egyptian initiative. It was backed by the entire Arab League and specifically praised by Saudi Arabia.

With the exception of Qatar — more a bank than a country — the Arabs are unanimous in wanting to see Hamas weakened, if not overthrown.

The cease-fire-in-place they backed would have denied Hamas any reward for starting this war, while what Kerry brought back from Paris granted practically all of its demands.

Kerry seems oblivious to the strategic reality that Hamas launched its rockets in the hope not of defeating Israel but ending its intra-Arab isolation (which it brilliantly achieves in the Qatar-Turkey peace proposal).

Hamas' radicalism has alienated nearly all of its Arab neighbors.

Kerry seems not to understand that the Arab League backed the Egyptian cease-fire-in-place, which would have left Hamas weak and isolated, to ensure that Hamas didn't emerge from this war strengthened and enhanced.

Forget about Israeli interests. Forget about Arab interests.

The American interest is to endorse and solidify this emerging axis of moderate pro-American partners (Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf states, and the Palestinian Authority) intent on seeing Islamist radicalism blunted and ultimately defanged.

Yet America's own secretary of state doesn't see it.

Speaking of Hamas-run Gaza, Kerry actually said in Paris: "The Palestinians can't have a cease-fire in which they think the status quo is going to stay." What must change? Gazans need "goods that can come in and out ... a life that is free from the current restraints."

But the only reason for those "restraints," for goods unable to come in and out, is that for a decade Hamas has used this commerce to import and develop weapons for making war on Israel.

Lifting the blockade would mean a flood of arms, rockets, missile parts and other implements of terror for Hamas.

What is an American secretary of state doing asserting that Hamas cannot cease fire unless it gets that?

Moreover, the fire from which Hamas will not cease consists of deliberate rocket attacks on Israeli cities — by definition, a war crime.

Whatever his intent, Kerry legitimized Hamas' war criminality.

Which makes his advocacy of Hamas' terms not just a strategic blunder — enhancing an American-designated terror group just when a wall-to-wall Arab front wants to see it gone — but a moral disgrace.

 

Charles Krauthammer's email address is letters@charleskrauthammer.com.