Foreign Affairs

Peace talks in progress?

Peace talks in progress?

After six trips to the Middle East in four months, Secretary of State John Kerry is optimistic about negotiations to bring peace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

According to an announcement made by Kerry last week, Israel and Palestine have tentatively agreed to resume peace talks after three years.

After “four days of face-to-face talks with Palestinian officials and intense phone conversations with their Israeli counterparts,” Kerry stood by himself to deliver the news, prompting speculation that neither party is completely on board.

During his Senate confirmation hearing in January, Kerry said it was his “prayer [that] perhaps this can be a moment where we can renew some kind of effort to get the [Israelis and Palestinians] into a discussion.”

Yet many remain skeptical. One official commented to Reuters on Kerry’s appearing solo: “The announcement reflects … the degree of investment on both sides and the amount of risk that they are prepared to take, which is apparently not much.”

Nevertheless, Kerry said that if all goes well, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will have negotiation talks underway in Washington in the next week or so.

Kerry was alone for his announcement, and he seems to be alone in his hopefulness.

Netanyahu, it is reported, has pledged to put Israel’s security needs above all and “maintain a Jewish majority in Israel.” Abbas, for his part, has not spoken about the possible resumption of negotiations since Kerry’s announcement.

Elliott Abrams, George W. Bush’s deputy national security adviser, echoed this sentiment, “Clearly, Kerry wants it more than Netanyahu or Abbas.”

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