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“They don’t see any prospect of their negotiating position improving as time goes by. If anything they now rightly recognize that things are not going to get better in terms of internal Arab support for engaging in a negotiation with the Israelis,” he said.

Furthermore, Mr. Nerguizian said, the choice of Mr. Indyk as the key U.S. representative could be “an interesting indicator” of the Obama administration’s true posture toward the talks and the likelihood of any tangible progress during the days, weeks and months ahead.

“He’s a heavyweight and he’s got the right credentials here with the Israelis,” Mr. Nerguizian said. “And the Palestinians are not in a position to renege on his appointment.”

He noted that Mr. Indyk is not disposed to try for too much and jeopardize the progress that can be made on individual issues. President Clinton tried unsuccessfully to push through an agreement on all final-status matters at the 2000 Camp David summit.

“This is not someone who is going to sign up for a Hail Mary pass,” he said. “He’s been more nuanced than a lot of folks who could have been appointed.”

Mr. Kerry spoke similarly, calling Mr. Indyk “realistic” and a man who “understands that Israeli-Palestinian peace will not come easily and it will not happen overnight.”

Mr. Indyk, 62, served two stints as ambassador to Israel, first under Mr. Clinton from 1995 to 1997 and later during the transition between the Clinton administration and the George W. Bush administration during 2000 and 2001.

“It’s been my conviction for 40 years that peace is possible,” Mr. Indyk told reporters at the State Department, although he acknowledged that the task of making progress toward a breakthrough in negotiations would be a “daunting and humbling” challenge.

Kerry on a mission

Some foreign policy analysts have praised Mr. Kerry for aggressively pushing to reopen Israeli-Palestinian peace talks since joining the Obama administration in January.

Although some have criticized the administration for abandoning the Middle East in pursuit a self-described “pivot” to Asia, Mr. Kerry has traveled more often to Middle Eastern nations than anywhere else on the planet during the past seven months.

“Understand that there were six trips by the secretary of state, so it’s not just a case of suddenly the seas parted and there was an epiphany,” Dennis B. Ross, who served in high-level diplomatic advisory roles under Presidents Bush, Clinton and Obama, said in remarks also posted on the website of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“The fact is this reflected a lot of work by the secretary with both leaders, both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas,” said Mr. Ross, who holds the title of counselor at the institute.

For Monday night’s dinner meeting and talks planned for Tuesday, the Israelis are being represented in by the Netanyahu government’s justice minister, Tzipi Livni, along with Yitzhak Molcho, an Israeli lawyer serving as Mr. Netanyahu’s special envoy to the talks.

The Palestinians are being represented by longtime negotiator Saeb Erekat as well as Mohammad Shtayyeh, a close aide to Mr. Abbas.

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