Status Of Mid-East Talks Reassessed By U.S. Officials

Secretary of State John Kerry has announced that the U.S. will be reassessing the status of the Mid-East peace talks that have been stalled following Israel and the Palestinians falling into a familiar cycle of tit-for-tat retribution. After more than a dozen trips to the region and endless late-night negotiating sessions with both sides, Mr. Kerry was forced to acknowledge that a peace agreement was more elusive than ever. Mr. Kerry told reporters, “There are limits to the amount of time and effort that the United States can spend, if the parties themselves are unwilling to take constructive steps in order to be able to move forward.”

After eight months of diplomacy, the current intransigence on both sides may be a reality check for Mr. Kerry. Israel has announced new Jewish settlements and refused to release Palestinian prisoners that they previously agreed to release. In response, the Palestinians issued a list of new demands and applied to join international organizations.

Mr. Kerry is facing a setback that would be familiar to many previous secretaries of state. The last dozen people that have held the position have tried and failed to broker a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians. The peace process was pushed toward the top of the administration’s list of second-term foreign policy priorities at the insistence of Mr. Kerry. He pursued a comprehensive peace accord with his own brand of personal diplomacy

Now, Mr. Kerry is saying, “We have a huge agenda,” and adding that his commitment to the peace process was “not open-ended.” The White House has rushed to signal its support for Mr. Kerry while many officials and analysts in the region have been preparing post-mortems on his efforts. An aide quoted Mr. Obama as saying, “I see a lot of senior officials quoted about Kerry and Middle East peace, but I’m the most senior official, and I have nothing but admiration for how John has handled this.”

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