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Published: Tuesday, 7/2/2013

Middle East reality

Kerry Kerry
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

Secretary of State John Kerry is the hardest-working man in the Middle East. He has revved up his shuttle diplomacy among the region’s leaders in hopes of resurrecting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Last Thursday, he met in Jerusalem for four hours with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. On Friday morning, he was in Jordan, for a 2½-hour meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. That afternoon, he returned to Israel for another session with Israeli leaders.

News reports of Mr. Kerry’s travels suggest hopes are rising in the Middle East for renewed peace talks, which haven’t been held directly since 2010. But optimism must be tempered with reality.

The Palestinians’ chief negotiator scolded Israel last week for advancing plans to build 69 apartments in southern Jerusalem, on territory taken in the 1967 war. The next day, the leader of the Palestinians’ Hamas branch, which governs Gaza, urged Mr. Abbas, who leads the Fatah branch that dominates the West Bank, not to fall “into the trap of talks” and to work for Palestinian unity first.

Old grievances fester. Restarting peace talks will demand more than a globe-trotting Mr. Kerry. Both sides must be willing to break with the past if their hopes for peace are sincere.



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