kerry, abbas face reporters 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – As US Secretary of State John Kerry was securing a fresh round of
direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians on Friday, the White
House released statements on the Missouri Disaster Declaration, the Federal
Communications Commission’s E-rate and policy on transnational criminal
organizations. The president spoke to the press on the killing of Trayvon
Martin. He had no comment, however, on the renewal of negotiations for Middle
Quiet from the White House was consistent with weeks of
meetings between Kerry, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and PA President
Mahmoud Abbas, kept extraordinarily private as the three men traded ideas and
concessions. Finally, as a deal was forged last week returning both parties to
the table, the calculus behind Kerry’s strategic silence began to
The bells and whistles of summits past, the op-eds and public
pressures have not worked, Kerry believes. They have historically served two
purposes that undermine peace efforts: to provide outlets for each party to
leverage blame when talks ultimately succumb to failure, and to raise
expectations within each camp that force political opponents of the two-state
solution to apply pressure against their leaderships.
The State Department is already taking efforts to reinforce their strategy,
dampening expectations in conversations with journalists on what next week will
accomplish as the two parties meet for the first time in Washington. Officials
say the process will take months, and will continue in the private manner on
which Kerry has so far relied.
By shutting out even press attaches and
senior-level aides, Kerry hopes to avoid the blame and expectations games that
have doomed past efforts.
The question is whether Israeli and Palestinian
leaders involved in the negotiations will be willing or able to play
The circle of players is about to get bigger as envoys – often
rivals to their leaders in their local political spheres – become directly
involved in the talks in Washington. Israeli officials are already leaking
details of the negotiating points and strategy to the press.
disciplined a body as it is unto itself, the State Department will not be able
to control these leaks. That will be the responsibility of the immediate
parties. Whether they can manage to do so will be a major test of leadership for
both Netanyahu and Abbas.