Kerry to return to Israel to double down on peace push

Sources familiar with negotiations say secretary will request concrete signals from PA, Israel this week in the hope that his strategy of putting in personal face time with leaders on both sides will finally produce results.

By MICHAEL WILNER JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
June 25, 2013 02:14
1 minute read.
President Shimon Peres, US Secretary of State John Kerry and PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

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.

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“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 as PA prime minister – just two weeks after accepting the post.

“When we 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.”

The 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 weaponry


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