U.S. backs off peace talks as impatience mounts with Israelis, Palestinians

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Secretary of State John Kerry’s canceling of a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is sign of the Obama administration’s growing impatience with its inability to forge a peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians, a senior U.S. aide said.

The New York Times reported that at least some in the United States think the Jewish nation and the Palestinian people ought to find a way to peace by themselves, and that Mr. Kerry’s efforts have largely come to an end, at least for the time being.

The backtrack comes just as Israel was reportedly due to release an additional 400 Palestinian prisoners, so long as the Palestinians agreed to stay at the bargaining table until 2015, Ynet News reported. Another mulled concession to the Israelis that was supposed to keep peace discussions moving forward: The possible U.S. release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.

Mr. Kerry, who met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu twice in the past 12 hours and was set to meet Wednesday with Mr. Abbas, called off the get-together late Tuesday evening. The cancellation came just after Mr. Abbas took to television to sign documents seeking Palestinian membership in the United Nations — a move Mr. Abbas had said he would only make if the talks fell apart.

“We are not doing this against America, but we still don’t see other ways forward,” Mr. Abbas said after signing the documents.

But Mr. Kerry shortly after shut down the talks with Mr. Abbas.

“This is a moment to be really clear-eyed and sober about this process,” he said to reporters in Brussels. “It is completely premature to draw any kind of judgment, certainly any final judgment, about today’s events and where things are. We are continuing, even now as I am speaking, to be engaged with both parties to find the best way forward.”

Mr. Kerry also suggested that Mr. Abbas hadn’t truly closed the door on peace talks by signing the documents to the United Nations, but rather that he was only trying to pressure Israel, the Times reported.

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