Tuesday's deadline came and went without a "framework" for an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, let alone the "final status" deal that Secretary of State
Under pressure from Kerry and veteran U.S. diplomat Martin Indyk, representatives of Israel and the
But finding common ground on these and other issues — including the status of Jerusalem and Israel's demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state — once again proved elusive. After downsizing his goal from a final agreement by Tuesday's deadline to a framework, Kerry had to lower his expectations again. In the end, the negotiations were derailed by a cascade of provocations and unilateral actions on both sides.
Israel reneged on a promise to release a fourth group of Palestinian prisoners by the end of March, and it continued with plans for the construction of Jewish housing in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
For his part, Kerry gained nothing by dangling the possibility that the U.S. might grant early release to Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. citizen sentenced to life in prison for spying for Israel. And it was no doubt unwise of Kerry to use the emotionally charged word "apartheid" in any context at all.
But we don't fault him for making a solution to this conflict a priority. Peaceful coexistence between Israel and a Palestinian state isn't a panacea for all of the conflicts in the Middle East, but it would end a conflict that has inflamed the region for decades and could still abruptly escalate into violence, as it did in the intifada of 2000. What's particularly frustrating is that the outlines of an eventual agreement have been obvious at least since the Oslo accords in the 1990s.