Skepticism over progress ahead of Kerry trip to Middle East

All parties appear to be skeptical a diplomatic solution can be found for the current wave of Palestinian terror.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff
Netanyahu Kerry

PM Netanyahu and US Secretary Of State John Kerry. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to fly to Berlin on Wednesday for meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, after a previous trip was canceled because of the wave of Palestinian terror attacks that have been plaguing Israel in the past weeks.

He is also slated to meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss the Palestinian violence in Israel and ways to de-escalate tensions in the country.

In Washington earlier in the week, Kerry said he will be meeting with Netanyahu and separately with Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas as well as King Abdullah of Jordan.

But he voiced skepticism ahead of the meetings.

“I think we have to have very careful expectations. I think we have to be very aware of the sensitivities that have built up now everywhere, and so we have to move carefully. And I think the United States has a special role to play. We accept that responsibility, I accept it, and I look forward to these meetings as an opportunity to try to pull people back from a precipice and try to move down a road, because everybody understands that in the end, it requires a political solution, it requires two states living side-by-side in peace with two peoples appropriately honored with their countries, and with security.”

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, State Department Spokesman John Kirby said that the purpose of Kerry’s trip to the region is to try to “find to ways to help cease the violence, to urge calm, and to try to facilitate ways in which we can move forward.”

Prospects of Diplomatic Solution Are Slim

However, according to analysis by the Associated Press, the prospects of a diplomatic solution in the near future are bleak.

There is a sense among observers that the US administration would like to wash its hands of the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum. For nine months, ending in early 2014, Secretary of State John Kerry focused on a mediation effort that most locals considered to be not serious.

The effort indeed failed, and some consider it took valuable attention away from the meltdown in Syria and Iraq.

After such a history, and with just over a year left in Obama’s term, there seems to be little incentive for the US to come charging back with a new peace plan.

But Obama may have no choice but to get involved again, simply because a new peace process could potentially calm things down. The Palestinians say their main message to Kerry this weekend will be for a “serious” international effort to end Israel’s control of occupied territories and establish an independent Palestinian state.

Ahead of his own meetings with the sides this week, Kerry has said he hopes to move beyond discussions about the religious site and “open up enough political space” to address broader issues. But to relaunch talks, the sides will first have to restore quiet, and it’s unclear whether Kerry has any ideas on how to do so in such a toxic environment.