Deal breakers


The prospects of success for Israeli-Palestinian talks, to which Secretary of State John Kerry has devoted great effort, appear to be weakening.

The objective of the talks is an agreement that would provide for two states, Israel and Palestine, living together in peace and recognized by the world. Secretary Kerry recently gave the parties a U.S.-developed framework agreement for consideration. Its fate is unclear.

This week, both sides seemed to be looking for an exit from the talks, based on bad faith. Israel insisted that Palestinians had to agree to call the nation a Jewish state, leaving unclear the status of 1.7 million Arabs among its 7.8 million people. That Israel will continue to be a Jewish state was never in question.

At the same time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is refusing to release a group of Palestinian prisoners, which Israel had pledged to do earlier in the negotiations. Israel also is requesting the release from an American prison of Jonathan Pollard, a spy convicted of selling U.S. secrets to Israel. The United States would release him in return for Israel’s agreement to extend the talks — a bad deal for this country.

After all that transpired, Palestinians said this week that they have applied for membership in 15 international organizations. They had pledged not to do that during the talks.

Both sides still need an agreement to proceed with a future of peace and security. The United States and Mr. Kerry have given them the opportunity to achieve one. They should stop temporizing and start holding real negotiations. U.S. patience is not limitless.