CMEP Bulletin: Kerry Remains Mum, Wins Praise

#Palestine, #Israel

While the U.S. State Department has yet to confirm a date, Israeli and Palestinian officials say that talks will resume in Washington next Tuesday July 30. While mum’s the word on many of details, including verbal or written agreements and assurances, cautious optimism is emerging in field typically full of cynics.

NPR interviewed American Task Force for Palestine senior fellow Hussein Ibish this week who explains why keeping quiet is beneficial.  They report, “Ibish says the dearth of information might be for the best, that the time may not be ripe to present what could be perceived as concessions, simply to get the two sides to the negotiating table.”

The strategy appears to be paying dividends for Secretary Kerry (and presumably the prospective peace process). In the same NPR piece Daniel Kurtzer, former U.S. ambassador to Israel, says “Kerry has done what few of his predecessors have in the past 20 years, and that is to build a - what I would call a strategic architecture for this peace process, rather than simply trying to get the two sides back to negotiations.”

Christian Science Monitor has noticed the positivity phenomenon asking why some of the “strongest skeptics about the chances of a comprehensive accord any time soon” are “supportive of the effort, and convinced that it can actually deliver something?” “The simplest explanation is that, at least in the eyes of some, and after three years of almost no high-level contact between the two sides, talking will be better than not talking.”

In response to some pessimistic punditry, Bernard Avishai writes, “Kerry has not spent dozens of hours in meetings with President Abbas, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Jordan's King Abdullah, and the leaders of the Arab League talking about the shape of the negotiating table. Kerry is no stranger to the history of this conflict…”

Translation: give Kerry a chance.

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