There must be something in the water over at the State Department that leads successive secretaries of state to decide, seemingly on their first day there, that now is the time for a big new push at a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
Here we go again. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz,
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry intends to place the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the center of his diplomatic activities and to strive to achieve a breakthrough agreement between the two sides during President Obama’s second term in office, according to the assessment of well-placed sources in Washington and New York.
Why? The article continues:
Nonetheless, the overall impression left by the discussions conducted in recent weeks by Kerry and his advisers with European, Israeli and Arab officials, as well as American Jewish leaders, is that the former Massachusetts senator is “determined to the point of obsession,” as one skeptical interlocutor put it, to change the tone and direction of relations between Israel and the Palestinians during his term as Secretary of State. “He sees it as the holy mission of his life,” the source said. Kerry is convinced that his years of experience with the region and his deep personal relationships with many of its main protagonists, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, place him in a unique position to succeed where his predecessors have failed and to bring about not only a resumption of talks but a long-term agreement as well.
Lest it be thought that this is the take solely of one Israeli newspaper, here is the Los Angeles Times experienced correspondent Paul Richter:
As Kerry heads off Sunday on his debut trip as secretary of State to nine nations in Europe and the Middle East, his blunt exchange with Assad offers insight on his determination to use whatever it takes — even insults — to help resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, his personal passion. Kerry has made it clear he wants to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, a long and sporadic process whose latest collapse occurred during Obama’s first term. He is well aware that failed attempts tarnished the reputations of elder statesmen and presidents for decades, including Obama. He is not deterred.