Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Mideast Frustration, the Sequel --- WASHINGTON — For those who suspect that the Middle East peace process has become a diplomatic drama, playing on an endless loop, Secretary of State John Kerry’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday could serve as Exhibit A. -- Explaining to the senators why his latest efforts to bring together the Israelis and the Palestinians had almost broken down last week, Mr. Kerry could have been channeling Secretary of State James A. Baker III when he explained a similar impasse to House members 24 years ago. -- While Mr. Kerry said both sides bore responsibility for “unhelpful” actions, the precipitating event, he said, was Israel’s announcement of 700 new housing units for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem. That came three days after a deadline passed for Israel to release Palestinian prisoners, and it undercut an emerging deal to extend the negotiations. -- “Poof, that was sort of the moment,” Mr. Kerry said. “We find ourselves where we are.” -- “I hope the parties will find a way back,” he added. “But, you know, we have an enormous amount on our plate.” Mr. Kerry warned that there were limits to the time that he and President Obama would devote to the peace process, “given the rest of the agenda, if they’re not prepared to commit to actually be there in a serious way.” - More, MARK LANDLER, at: NYTimes


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