john kerry looking thoughtful 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Leading voices inside the State Department are calling for US Secretary of State
John Kerry to lay down a set of principles that Israel and the Palestinians
would either have to accept or reject as a way of restarting the negotiations,
diplomatic officials said Monday as Jerusalem geared up for another visit by
Kerry to the region.
The visit, Kerry’s sixth since March, was initially
to be held at the end of the week, but may now be postponed due to the illness
of his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry, who was rushed to a Boston hospital Sunday with
an unspecified illness.
On Monday a source said her family believed Heinz
Kerry, 74, might have suffered a seizure. Her condition was upgraded Monday from
critical to fair. Kerry, her son and other family members were with her at the
hospital in Boston.
It was not immediately clear whether the situation
would delay his trip by a number of days or otherwise impact his travel
Kerry left the region some 10 days ago after spending three
grueling days in the region, shuttling between Amman, Jerusalem and Ramallah in
efforts to get Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas back to talks.
He held six separate meetings with
the two leaders, which extended over 20 hours. He left two staff members in the country to
continue his efforts, and said before he left that he would return to try and
tie up the deal.
Some in the State Department are concerned that Kerry is
being dragged into blind alleys by the two sides, expending too much energy on
detailed questions about how many Palestinian prisoners Israel would release
before and during the talks, and exactly where a settlement freeze would be
According to this school of thought, these arguments could go on
forever and simply wear Kerry down. Instead, Kerry should simply lay down a
formula that would indicate that the talks were to begin with the baseline being
the June 4, 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps, and a Palestinian
recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.
both the Palestinians and Israel would have to give the other something, and
whatever side was not willing to do so would be pinned with the blame for the
The Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University,
meanwhile, released a poll showing overwhelming skepticism by the Israel public
of Kerry succeeding in his efforts.
According to the monthly “Peace
Index” poll, while 64% percent of Jewish Israelis are in favor of negotiations,
with 32% opposed, only 22% said that Kerry’s chances of succeeding in getting
the talks off the ground were high.
Seventy-one percent said that his
chances of success were low. Some 58% of Israeli Jews think that Israel does not
need to show greater flexibility to facilitate resuming talks, while 37% think
more flexibility is called for.
A majority of Jewish Israelis (67%)
believe that the Palestinian Authority does not want to resume peace
negotiations, while a majority of Arab Israelis (86%) believe it
The survey was conducted on July 1-3. It included 601 respondents
who constitute a representative sample of the country’s adult
population. The survey has a 4.5% margin of error.
In a related
development, Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin met in Jerusalem with German
Development Minister Dirk Niebel and argued against a growing movement inside
Germany and the EU to specially label products from the
Elkin said this would harm Palestinian workers and the
Palestinian economy, since some 22,500 Palestinians work in the settlements and
their jobs would be in jeopardy if firms moved out because of the labeling
It was paradoxical, Elkin argued, that the Europeans were
considering the move – which would harm the Palestinian economy – while
simultaneously approaching Israel with complaints that it was not approving or
moving forward European-backed projects in Area C of the West Bank, which they
argue will strengthen the Palestinian economy.
Niebel, according to a
statement issued by the German Embassy, said Berlin welcomed Kerry’s initiative
to resuscitate the talks.
He said that during his visit to Jerusalem and
Ramallah he was trying to work toward better coordination between Israel’s
security needs and the development needs of the Palestinians.