Daily Israel Report

Officials Say Kerry About to Abandon Peace Talks

Kerry needs to 'own the failure' soon according to senior officials, or risk 'looking desperate.'
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 4/4/2014, 10:27 AM

Throwing in the towel? John Kerry
Throwing in the towel? John Kerry
Reuters

Sources close to US Secretary of State John Kerry, including senior White House staff, say Kerry may throw in the towel on peace talks in the very near future.

“A point will come where he has to go out and own the failure,” one senior official told The Washington Post on Friday. The official said for now, Kerry needs to "lower the volume and see how things unfold. If he goes too far, there’s the risk of looking desperate."

Kerry was criticized by Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon in January for being "obsessive and messianic" in his efforts to force through a peace deal since last July. On Thursday, Kerry admitted that there is little he can do to save the talks, after Israel cancelled the last batch of terrorist releases earlier in the day, given the PA's breach of conditions by turning to the UN unilaterally.

However not all sources felt Kerry had the option to drop the issue at this late stage of the game, with the talks set to end on April 29.

Dennis Ross, former senior Middle East adviser to US President Barack Obama, said "we’ve had a pretty significant investment in this, and to walk away from it before you determine for sure there is nothing else to be done, I’m not sure that’s what you want to do at this moment.”

Citing wider international policy mistakes, Ross added "it’s not like we have a lot of good things going on internationally right now. When other things aren’t going so well, this tends to look like just part of a piece."

Obama has been widely criticized for his "weak" and "failed" foreign policy, including the crisis in Ukraine and Iran's nuclear program, leading Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to slam him as the "most naive president in history." Iran in March derided Obama's threat of military intervention as the "joke of the year."

According to the source, Obama strongly backed Kerry's ongoing push for peace talks. Deputy National Security adviser Benjamin J. Rhodes said Obama "was fully aware of Kerry’s interest and energy about the subject when he was chosen as Secretary of State."