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On several occasions we have remarked on Secretary of State Kerry’s frantic push for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Though his efforts thus far have turned out to be a series of false starts, he seems indefatigable, going back and forth between the protagonists. It’s as though he believes movement itself creates a sense of achievement all its own.
And now come reports that despite the lack of any progress in bringing the parties to even the most preliminary agreements, Mr. Kerry is ready to introduce a “framework” for negotiations that will call on Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians that most Israelis believe to be inimical to their security interests.
An interesting sidelight to all of this is the question of just how strongly President Obama supports – or doesn’t – Mr. Kerry’s non-stop diplomacy.
Recent stories in the Israeli media, citing “unnamed sources,” indicate that Mr. Kerry failed to get backing from President Obama to confront Israel over its rejection of his peace proposals. Channel 10 News said the secretary of state, in the hope of imposing a binding framework agreement on both sides, had sought Mr. Obama’s “political backing for confrontation, primarily with Israel” but failed to persuade the president, who believed that now was “not the time for such moves.”
Inadvertently, of course, the White House seemed to confirm the story even as it tried to push back. White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan told reporters,
Any notion that Secretary Kerry failed to obtain the president’s backing for his efforts is totally false. President Obama remains fully invested in Secretary Kerry’s tireless work on behalf of peace, and those efforts are not focused on confronting the parties – they are aimed at bridging the differences and developing a framework for negotiation on the core issues.
Plainly, Ms. Meehan was trying to tamp down any talk of an imposed solution. Equally important is that rather than declare in no uncertain terms that Mr. Kerry is on a mission from the president, she chose instead to tepidly allow that Mr. Obama is “fully invested” in Mr. Kerry’s “tireless work.”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Mr. Kerry’s heavy-handed tactics, which have included warning Israel that it faces a new intifada if talks break down.
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What was supposed to have been a 15 minute interview, turned into an intense learning session and intellectual battle, the likes of which I had never experienced in my entire life.
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