Peres Abbas and Kerry at WEC 370.
(photo credit: World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell)
WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State John Kerry will head back to the region this
week in his latest drive to renew peace talks between Israel and the
Palestinians, hoping that his strategy of putting in personal face time with
leaders on both sides will finally produce results.
Sources familiar with
the negotiations say the secretary will request concrete signals from the
parties. The White House has given the State Department until roughly September
to achieve a breakthrough in negotiations.
“He’s going to lay out the
opportunities that exist here, and also the threats that exist if we let those
opportunities pass,” said Jessica Rosenblum, director of communications at the J
Street lobby group.
Expectations in Washington are low, however, as the
Palestinian Authority continues to grapple with dual leadership and financial
crises. Kerry’s upcoming visit comes just days after Rami Hamdallah resigned
PA prime minister – just two weeks after accepting the post.
talk about the peace process, President [Mahmoud] Abbas is our interlocutor and
so it’s not going to have an impact” on Kerry’s efforts, State Department
spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters on Friday, a day after Hamdallah
submitted his resignation.
David Harris, executive director of the
American Jewish Committee, said that Kerry has adopted a “policy of
incrementalism” that, with every monthly visit, “effectively puts leaders on
both sides on notice.”
“There’s almost a fatalistic view that no progress
is possible, for a whole host of reasons. And his goal is to try and re frame it
as a steep, uphill climb, but no one should be allowed to give up,” Harris told
The Jerusalem Post.
“No doubt, he knows all the objective reasons why things may
not move forward.
But the secretary has concluded that he must keep
pursuing this, and he must change the climate of no expectations.”
secretary of state was in Saudi Arabia on Monday in private meetings with
officials on the Syrian crisis. Kerry has disagreed
with President Barack
Obama’s approach to the Syrian conflict over the past several weeks, as the
United States has rolled out a new policy of arming rebel forces with light