Israel's settlement announcement would seem to be a slap at Kerry's efforts to reopen peace talks. But as one Mideast veteran puts it, Netanyahu 'takes a step backward before he takes a step forward.'
Instead of a red carpet, Secretary of State John Kerry got what might have looked like a knee-capping – in the form of an announcement of new settlement construction – for his arrival in Jerusalem Thursday.
But what under other conditions might have looked like a deliberate sabotaging of Secretary Kerry’s laser-like – and some say, quixotic – efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks is being viewed by some regional experts as a sure sign that Kerry may be on the verge of succeeding.
“Kerry has a good chance of announcing the resumption of talks, if not on this trip then on the next, and the tell-tale sign for me is this announcement” of a new 69-unit settlement in a sensitive neighborhood of East Jerusalem, says Aaron David Miller, a former US diplomat for both Republican and Democratic administrations who is now vice president for new initiatives at the Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington.
“Bibi [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] always takes a step backward before he takes a step forward,” says Dr. Miller, who, with his long experience in peace-process diplomacy, is not given to overly optimistic assessments. “So an announcement of a project like this practically on the day the secretary of state is arriving, that tells me something is coming.”
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