Kerry 'feels the clock ticking' on Mideast peace agreement
July 30th, 2013
07:15 PM ET

Kerry 'feels the clock ticking' on Mideast peace agreement

By Jill Dougherty

As Secretary of State John Kerry embraced Israeli Justice Minister Tsipi Livini and warmly shook hands with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat at the State Department on Tuesday there was a deja-vu moment.

A flashback to September 1993 when President Bill Clinton embraced Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat on the South Lawn of the White House.

This is just the beginning of a revived peace process that could easily crumble, as Clinton’s Oslo accords did and Kerry admitted: “I know the path is difficult. There is no shortage of passionate skeptics.”

The secretary of state, however, did succeed in getting two representatives together at the State Department to work out details of where this new push for peace is headed.

Substantive talks, Kerry announced, will take place within the next two weeks either in Israel or in the Palestinian territories, with “all of the final-status issues, all of the core issues, and all other issues … on the table for negotiation.”

The objective, he said, is to achieve a final-status agreement over the course of the next nine months.

President Barack Obama met with the two negotiators at the White House and a senior White House official told reporters the president is “impressed with the outlook and the atmosphere” and it appears the two sides are coming to the table with the “seriousness that will be necessary to tackle the challenges ahead.”

At the expected upcoming talks, the United States will be a “facilitator,” officials say. A senior State Department official called it an “indispensable role,” but the talks are direct negotiations between the two sides.

On hand will be Kerry’s new special envoy, Ambassador Martin Indyk, who is expected to spend a considerable amount of time in the region through early next year.

Both sides took risks to launch the talks, officials say with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deciding to free 104 Palestinian prisoners which sparked an angry response among some Israeli.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, the officials say, “experienced political heat” for agreeing to negotiations. “We all know that leaders are going to have to do courageous and difficult things” to advance the process, said the White House official.

To aid the process, the Obama administration plans to leverage the private sector here and abroad to make “significant” investments in the Palestinian-controlled areas of the West bank and the Gaza strip to create sustainable growth.

‘This is not a U.S. assistance program,” the State Department official cautions. “This is not a bi-lateral aid program. We are not going to be seeking an appropriation or money to provide assistance to the Palestinians. This is not what it’s about.”

“If you give bilateral assistance once then the money gets spent and you’re right back at the beginning. If you create an environment where foreign investment comes flowing in, which is exactly what are trying to do here, then that should be sustainable over time.”

But John Kerry “already feels the clock is ticking,” the official says.

There will be provocations, officials predict, and Israeli settlement activity is likely to continue. But if the Obama administration had not been able to get negotiations going again, the White House official said, there could have been a “train wreck.”

“It’s going to take “very, very tough choices” by Israeli and Palestinian leaders to get where the administration hopes the process will go, the State Department official says, but “this is an opportunity that may not come around again.”

soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Powder


    August 1, 2013 at 5:44 am | Reply
  2. Powder

    Folks a lot of you do not seem to know facts about the Israeli Palestine conflict and in the process you complicate things further. BOTH JEWS and PALESTINIANS ARE NATIVE TO THAT PART OF THE WORLD(Present day Isreal and Palestine).

    August 1, 2013 at 5:37 am | Reply
  3. helenecha

    Amazing! Whoever is Kerry? A magician?

    July 31, 2013 at 9:28 pm | Reply
  4. Towel Heads

    "Saudi activist receives 7-year sentence, 600 lashes for insulting Islam." Gee really? It should say, "Sentencing someone to 7 years and 600 lashes MAKES Islame INSULTING". Stupid Towel Heads. There will NEVER be peace in Towel Head land until Islame moves to the 21 century (which will be NEVER).

    July 31, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Reply
    • BIG SHIZ

      You racist peace of sh it

      July 31, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Reply
  5. Jim C.

    Nonsense. Kerry is half Jewish, in a heavily Jewish State Department, in a heavily Jewish Executive Branch – how many Palestinians are there.

    The US sent a former AIPAC employee and right wing Zionist to the negotating table for goodness sake. This is all farce, and much of the world knows it.... it is just window dressing so Israel can make some ostensibly colorable claim in the corporate media that it is trying, oh so hard, for peace, as it continues its occupation, blockade and lets its Jewish colonists run amock in the West Bank.

    Ridiculous and shameful farce.

    July 31, 2013 at 10:33 am | Reply
  6. John Doe

    The only clocke kerry is watch is the countdown to his next run for president.

    July 31, 2013 at 10:27 am | Reply
  7. m&m

    I'm not sure if progress can be made considering the history between the two. Just start off with trivial things and work up slowly and we shall see.

    July 31, 2013 at 4:18 am | Reply
    • buggs bunny

      someone should have told them to save the money on airfare – until – someone come up with a great idea like – not -allowing the word occupation to be used in conjunction to israel – identifying israels right to exist – and allowing jerusalem to be it's capitol

      July 31, 2013 at 9:57 am | Reply
      • Jim C.

        Except that what you've said is absolutely disingenuous nonsense. Israel illegally occupies Palestine and has been ethnically cleansing them for 70 years, as people like you excuse behavior, when done by Jewish Israel, that you'd condemn swiftly if an Arab state did it.


        July 31, 2013 at 10:35 am |
  8. saeed

    no agreement needed soon ireland dublin and ghana is going to get nuked then after that the job begins with removing your half breeds like the usa britain australia brazil and morocco you what to see real power china is going to give it to you right up that irish childs from dublins a s s until he bleeds.

    July 31, 2013 at 3:29 am | Reply
    • buggs bunny

      saeed – where u from

      July 31, 2013 at 10:02 am | Reply
      • saeed

        pakistan zindabad long live the pakistani empire.

        July 31, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
      • .

        Don't mess with the lady in black: Pakistan's 'Burka Avenger'

        July 31, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      Sneed, that you ?
      I figured you blew yourself up long time ago.
      Keep trying.
      If at first you don't succeed.....

      August 1, 2013 at 10:12 am | Reply
  9. Dave

    Put some ketchup on it Kerry and ask for another purple heart

    July 30, 2013 at 9:42 pm | Reply
  10. Thinker23

    Israel offered Palestinian Arabs peace and a sovereign independent state in 1948, 1967, 1978, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2009 and the Palestinians REJECTED it every single time. The reason was and is pretty simple: they were comfortable with their war against the Jewish State. If it was not the case they woud not only agree to peace but would ASK for it.

    The truth is that as long as the majority of Palestinians are happy with their terrorist war against Israel there will be no peace. Therefore, the only way to achieve peace is to make the Palestinians UNHAPPY with the war. Only then they will ask for peace.

    July 30, 2013 at 7:41 pm | Reply
    • m&m

      Close the tunnels on the Egyptian side that will tighten things up a bit.

      July 30, 2013 at 7:57 pm | Reply
      • m&m

        When you can order fast food via tunnel and etc..

        July 31, 2013 at 5:52 am |
    • buggs bunny

      yo thinker – palestinians are NOT arabs – NEITHER is turkey – lebanon – syria – iraq – iran – pakistan – afganistan – egypt lybia – or the rest of the african continenant

      July 31, 2013 at 10:01 am | Reply
    • Jim C.

      typical hasbara lie. They rejected deals that did things like allow a number of settlements, ongoing Jewish control of Palestinian borders, airspace and even telecommunications... and on and on... basically, they made offers that, generally, they knew the Palestinians wouldn't accept {even if most would have accepted a couple of them}.

      Your bravado is buttressed by American treasure and American backing. the reverse if what you suggest is true – if Israel wants peace it should end the occupation, but it doesnt end the occupation, AND CONTINUES BUILDING SETTLEMENTS FOR EUROPEAN JEWISH COLONISTS – because it manifestly does not want peace...

      it wants all of Palestine. And it will continue its slow burn ethnic cleansing and campaign of terror to do it.

      And hypocrites like you will whine on internet boards that everyone is an "anti-Semite' as you justify the unjustifiable so long as its Jews killing the indigenous Semites of Palestine.

      July 31, 2013 at 10:39 am | Reply
      • Fearless Freep

        Israel gave back Sinai and got peace with Egypt.
        Israel gave back Gaza and got rockets.
        No more giving back.

        August 1, 2013 at 10:15 am |

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