Both Obama and Kerry suggested they understood the shift would not be welcomed by the Palestinians.
“We’re going to have to see whether the Israelis agree and whether President Abbas, then, is willing to understand that this transition period requires some restraint on the part of the Palestinians as well,” Obama said. “They don’t get everything that they want on day one. And that creates some political problems for President Abbas as well.”
Kerry said those who believe “there might be an unfairness” by making Israeli security a preeminent factor in advancing toward a peace deal should “look at the history and understand why that’s a fundamental reality.”
Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said Israel might have demanded the shift in part because it needs strong security assurances in the wake of upheaval in neighboring Egypt and Syria. Israel also is concerned that the recent deal between world powers and Iran could spur rather than prevent the Islamic Republic’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon.
Schanzer, who just published State of Failure, a critique of Abbas’s governance, said Kerry deserved credit for keeping the parties at the table after differences over preconditions kept them apart for almost three years.