In Thursday’s State department’s daily press briefing, Spokesperson Jen Psaki announced that the peace negotiations (lovingly nicknamed MEPP) between the Israelis and Palestinians will resume on August 14 in Jerusalem, to be followed by a meeting in Jericho.
In response to a question about the Israeli government’s decision to build between 800 and 1,000 more housing units on the wrong side of the “green line,” Psaki answered: “Our position on settlements has not changed. We do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity and oppose any efforts to legitimize settlement outposts.”
But she was quick to add that Secretary of State John Kerry still “believes both of the negotiating teams are at the table in good faith and are committed to working together to make progress.” Meaning, she thinks the announcement was little more than some muscle flexing in Jerusalem, in preparation for the next bout with the Palestinians, nothing that couldn’t be shut down in a phone call. Indeed, she added, “We are speaking to the Government of Israel and making our concerns known.”
According to Psaki, Ambassador Martin Indyk, who’s been not-achieving peace in the Middle East since late last century, and Deputy Special Envoy Frank Lowenstein, also known as a Kerry staffer, “will travel to the region to help facilitate negotiations.”
But lest you raise your hopes in vain, according to Psaki, Kerry does not expect to make any announcements in the aftermath of this round of talks.
As The Jewish Press reported earlier, Secretary Kerry and National Security Adviser Susan Rice held roundtable discussions with Jewish American and Arab American community leaders last night, and there’s one coming this Friday morning, at the White House. These meetings are expected to serve as “an opportunity to update community leaders on the resumption of direct final status negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, as well as to hear directly from these community leaders about their perspectives.”
Indyk and Lowenstein also attend these two meetings.
Before the first meeting, Psaki stated the Secretary is “looking forward to these discussions with leaders who have been deeply involved in these issues for many, many years, and who share our goal of achieving a final status agreement with two states living side by side in peace and security.”
Or, as our reporter Lori Lowenthal Marcus put it: “Kerry Briefs Jewish ‘Leaders’ (Cheerleaders?) on MidEast Talks.”
To remind you, the first release of Palestinian prisoners with Jewish blood on their hands is scheduled for Tuesday, on the eve of the talks in Jerusalem.
As to the construction in outposts, about which the U.S. is so upset – it began with an announcement by Minister Naftali Bennett earlier this week, about renewing construction in East Jerusalem, a legally annexed area under Israeli sovereignty. But, of course, none of it is happening any time soon. As we told you over these screens, Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home is the one coalition member which is not part of the peace negotiations “team.” By team, of course, they mean anyone but Bennett and Uri Ariel. So, the honorable minister’s ability to turn his promises about construction into actual construction is very similar to your and my ability in the same area.
So he might as well promise a million new uinit. Sounds better and has the same results.