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AMMAN, Jordan — Secretary of State John F. Kerry arrived in Jordan late Wednesday for another round of efforts to bring Israel and the Palestinians to the negotiating table, but he acknowledged that time was growing short and gave little indication that he expected significant progress on his fifth visit to the region in as many months.

Kelly in Oman, Jordan

“I’m not setting any deadlines,” Kerry said earlier in the day during a stop in Kuwait. But, he added, “we need to be showing some kind of progress” long before September, when the Palestinians take their observer seat at the U.N. General Assembly.

“I don’t think we have the luxury of that kind of time,” he said.

Far from improving, the prospects for jump-starting Kerry’s signature foreign policy initiative appear to have worsened in recent months, as the shrinking domestic political capital of both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has weakened their ability to sell a deal, assuming that one can be achieved.

Kerry’s current trip has taken him thus far to five countries in the region and has focused for the most part on Syria. But he is personally most committed to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and sees it as the possible legacy of his tenure as the chief U.S. diplomat.

On Thursday, he will meet with Jordan’s King Abdullah II before traveling to Jerusalem to see Netanyahu. On Friday, he will see Abbas in Jordan, and he has left open the option of a further visit to the Israeli prime  minister after that.

In a news conference in Kuwait with the foreign minister, Sheik Sabah al-Khaled al-Sabah, Kerry denied Israeli news reports of a three-way meeting with Netanyahu and Abbas during this trip. “I know of no plans to do that,” he said. Any possible meeting between Palestinian and Israeli officials, he said, would be at lower levels.

Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu

Kerry’s goal has been for Netanyahu and Abbas to sit down together to begin setting the outline for a peace settlement along the lines of plans that have eluded U.S. governments for years — the establishment of a Palestinian state and protection of Israeli security.

Since Kerry’s last visit in May, Abbas has lost a new prime minister to resignation after three weeks, and Netanyahu has been increasingly challenged by the far right within his own governing coalition over any two-state solution with the Palestinians.

“The politics of both have been tested, as they always are in this part of the world,” Kerry said. “Both of them are very skilled veterans of the politics of their countries, and I am quite confident in their serious commitment of purpose here. . . . I would not have returned here three times,” and then again with President Obama in March, he said. “I wouldn’t be here now if I didn’t have a belief that this was possible. But it’s difficult.”

“It is urgent because time is the enemy of a peace process,” Kerry added. “Time allows situations on the ground to change or to become hardened or misinterpreted. . . . It allows a vacuum to be filled by people who don’t want things to happen”.

Source: The Washington Post

UM– USEKE.

 

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