By RYAN JONES, ISRAEL TODAY —
US Secretary of State John Kerry is currently on the last leg of his latest round of Middle East shuttle diplomacy, and looks to have fared no better than in his previous visits.
Just a few days ago, there was talk of Kerry announcing, and possibly even hosting on the spot a four-way summit between himself, Israel, the Palestinians and the Jordanians before his return to Washington.
But those hopes were put to rest as Kerry emerged from his Sunday morning meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
Kerry said both he and Abbas agreed progress had been made, but that issues remained to be worked out – diplomatic-speak for the fact that Abbas continues to refuse to meet the Israelis without preconditions.
Kerry met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the evening before in Jerusalem. Cabinet minister Gilad Erdan later told Channel 2 News that Abbas’ continuing intransigence had already been made known to Israel, and that the two sides are no where near as close to restarting negotiations as the media has been suggesting.
At Sunday’s cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu reiterated that he remains ready to meet with Abbas at a moment’s notice, and that Israel is not the one holding up the resumption of peace talks.
In order to calm Israeli fears that the Jewish state could be strong-armed into joining negotiations on suicidal Arab terms, Netanyahu added that no agreement will ever be signed with the Palestinians without first going to the Israeli public for a referendum.
Demonstrating what can only be described as a lack of understanding for what democracy really is, Abbas has in the past decried Israel’s insistence on a referendum as an obstacle to peace.