CASABLANCA, Morocco — The Obama administration will reevaluate its role in foundering Middle East peace talks following actions by both Israel and the Palestinians that have brought the negotiations to virtual collapse, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said yesterday.
A visibly downbeat Kerry, who has spent the better part of his 14-month tenure as America’s top diplomat trying to cajole the parties into talks, stopped short of declaring the peace process dead. But in his most pessimistic assessment of the situation since talks began last summer with an end-of-April target for a deal, Kerry made clear his patience was near exhausted. He said it was time for a ‘reality check.”
“It is regrettable that in the last few days both sides have taken steps that are not helpful and that’s evident to everybody,” he said.
Speaking to reporters in Rabat before traveling to Casablanca for a meeting with Morocco’s king, Kerry said the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks could not continue to occupy so much of his time if the Israelis and Palestinians were unable to take even minor steps toward making the negotiations successful. He noted there were other pressing matters, such as the crises in Ukraine and Syria as well as the Iran nuclear talks that demand attention.
“Clearly we have an enormous amount on the plate,” Kerry said. “There are limits to the amount of time and effort that the United States can spend if the parties themselves are unable to take constructive steps. We are going to evaluate very carefully exactly where this is and where it might possibly be able to go.”
Kerry has been the lead player in the administration’s effort to forge a long-elusive deal to end the conflict and for the past 12 days had been conducting furious shuttle diplomacy to salvage the talks as the end-of-month deadline loomed.