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July 23, 2013 at 6:20 AM
Mideast peace talks – an Internet prank?
Optimism is the rarest of commodities in the Middle East, so the heavily qualified and asterisk-dotted scheduled meeting between Israeli and Palestinian officials in Washington, D.C. is potentially, if it happens, maybe, a notable start.
Credit goes to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Certainly the willingness of the two sides to mutter and grumble their way to the negotiating table is key, but Kerry labored to get them into the same room, as detailed in this New York Times story.
He crafted the ground rules, themes, topics and parameters of the discussions that Palestinian and Israeli officials would accept. Yes, the pre-1967 borders would serve as a baseline. Israel will release some Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture, but is almost embarrassed by the act.
What will happen? No one knows, but Kerry has made six trips to the region since March. His visits got extended with multiple meetings with both leaders.
The first round of talks may well be about the topics for the next round of talks. Incremental progress is still progress.
Kerry got things started, and might have a strong hand in orchestrating a historic outcome. Maybe, perhaps, possibly.