Kerry says time running out to revive Mideast peace

WASHINGTON Mon Jun 3, 2013 8:20pm EDT

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the media about Syria at the State Department in Washington May 31, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the media about Syria at the State Department in Washington May 31, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State John Kerry urged Israel and the Palestinians on Monday to revive stalled peace talks, warning that the alternative was a "negative spiral of responses."

"We're running out of time. If we do not succeed now, we may not get another chance," Kerry said in a speech to the American Jewish Committee in which he urged American Jews to support peace efforts to revive stalled peace talks. "The status quo is simply not sustainable."

Kerry said the best way to ensure Israel's security was by ending "once and for all conflict with the Palestinians by summoning the courage to achieve peace and by reaching a negotiated resolution."

"The absence of peace is perpetual conflict. ... We will find ourselves in a negative spiral of responses and counter-responses that could literally slam the door on a two-state solution," he said.

Kerry, who has visited Israel four times in his four months in office to try to restart peace talks, acknowledged skepticism that the two sides could resolve their differences.

U.S.-brokered peace efforts broke down in 2010 in a dispute over Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The Palestinians want a settlement construction freeze, while Israel insists talks should be held without preconditions.

"I fully recognize the challenges and predicament in which Israel finds itself, but I also firmly believe this is a hopeful time if we choose to make it so. This can actually be a time for possibility, a time for promise," Kerry said.

"I still believe peace is achievable," he added.

Kerry said a stable Palestinian state and a flourishing economy would strengthen Israel's security. During a visit to Jordan last month, he announced a plan to spur Palestinian growth with up to $4 billion in private investment.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is leading a group working to identify opportunities in tourism, construction, energy, agriculture and high-tech industries in the Palestinian territories.

Earlier on Monday, Kerry said he would decide at some point whether to return to Israel and the Palestinian territories to push for decisions by the two sides on reviving talks.

"I will make a judgment at some point whether I need to go and push a little bit, or help that process, and I am certainly willing to. I am open to that possibility but we are not raising any expectations about an American plan," Kerry told reporters at a news conference with the Polish foreign minister.

Kerry said he looked forward to working with new Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, who was appointed on Sunday to replace Western-favored economist Salam Fayyad, who quit in April.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Comments (17)
Assur wrote:
A free sovereign Palestine built on his chin!

Jun 03, 2013 8:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
kafantaris wrote:
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict does fuel extremism and terrorism across the world. This is why the sorting out of the Middle East must start with Palestine. John Kerry is right.
Which is why all countries — friends and foes — should find some way to help see the peace process through — for the good of their citizens and for the good of the world.
From utter chaos comes rebirth, as Nietzsche said. We can thus still have a lasting peace in the Middle East no matter how bad things might seem.
Ultimately, all people want peace and prosperity. The Middle East has the resources and the people-smarts to make this happen.
But we all have to work at it. Fortunately today’s technology and communications make the job faster, if not easier.
Let’s roll up our sleeves.

Jun 03, 2013 10:02pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Reuters1945 wrote:
“We’re running out of time. If we do not succeed now, we may not get another chance,” Kerry said.”

Kerry’s statement would be humorous if it were not so sad that he felt compelled to say literally, word for word, the exact same statement that has been uttered by every single professional politician who ever felt the need to pontificate on the Middle East- and I mean for decades.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

How does that rather crude saying go- “New day- same old ****”.

“Our last, best chance”. “Final opportunity”. “Israel and the Arabs must summon up the courage to finally make Peace”.

Take your pick of the “soup du jour” sound bites, from the Daily menu of official Washington, DC words of genius.

Meanwhile, Hamas and Hezbollah, both remain openly and publicly Sworn to “The State of Israel’s total destruction”.

Their positions and words- not mine.

But if a reporter, any reporter, was ever able to pose the question to Mr. Kerry, or any politician, as to how you can make peace with people who want you dead, and who openly state, that they want you dead, the typical, mealy mouthed response from the politician’s mouth is always predictable and always the same.

“Well now, just because Hamas and Hezbollah have stated in their inscribed Charters that they are Sworn to the destruction of the State of Israel, that does not necessarily mean that they mean what they say, or that one should take such statements literally and at face value.”

Right ! Some one says he wants me dead and has acted on that stated position numerous times in the past, over and over and over again.

But of course he does not really want to kill me. It is just a form of semantics said in jest, so lighten up.

As to investing billions in infrastructure in the Arab territories one should pause to recall what happened when Israel totally vacated the entire Gaza strip many years ago.

Israeli farmers in the region, for more than a decade, had designed, built and expanded some of the most high-tech hot-houses in the world, to grow vegetables and various types of exotic flowers, something for which Israel is well known, world wide.

As the last Israeli troops exited from the Gaza strip, during their complete withdrawal, the looting and total destruction of everything Israel left behind, commenced immediately.

Countless millions of dollars worth of agricultural farm properties, in particular the world famous high-tech glass hot-houses Israel had constructed, at vast expense, and left behind, in total operational working order, were ransacked and completely destroyed.

What was destroyed might have been a source of jobs and income for countless people in the Gaza strip. But those facts apparently were of less importance to certain groups then venting their rage and celebrating that those same groups now had total control of Gaza.

Yes- Mr. Kerry. Keep dreaming about how right now, exactly this month, constitutes the “last real chance and last opportunity” for Peace everlasting to dawn on the entire Middle East.

Oh yes- and don’t forget to add Mr. Kerry, that virtually all the problems that face the Middle East, including the present “melt down” in Turkey, can all be traced directly back to the Arab/Israeli conflict/s.

All the problems you can shake a stick at, perhaps even the tornados in the USA can all be traced back to the Arab/Israeli conflict as their causative source.

Just get Israel and the Palestinians to get together and “make nice” and bury the hatchet, once and for all, and quite magically that entire region of the world will burst out in one ever lasting “Spring” of joy and good fellowship.

If you believe that Mr. Kerry, et al, then I suspect that there is a mighty big chance you also believe that if you glue feathers on a pig, it will be able to fly.

Jun 03, 2013 10:18pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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