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White House: ‘Reality check’ on Israeli-Palestinian peace hits pessimistic note

- The Washington Times - Friday, April 4, 2014

Hours after Secretary of State John Kerry said it's time for a "reality check" among Israeli and Palestinian leaders, the White House conceded that peace talks between the two sides have hit a serious snag and hinted they could be in danger of falling apart entirely.

"It's the responsibility of the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to make these difficult decisions, to take these difficult steps, on their own. The decisions that need to be reached to find common ground cannot be imposed by the U.S. or any other country in the world," White House principal deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Friday.

"We have reached a point where Palestinian leaders and Israeli leaders need to spend some time thinking about their commitment to making some difficult decisions and taking some difficult actions. ... It's time for the Israeli leaders and leaders of the Palestinian people to spend some time considering their options at this point."

In Morocco on Friday, Mr. Kerry said it is now "reality check time" for the two sides, and added that "there are limits to the amount of time and effort" the U.S. will commit to the Middle East peace process if Israeli and Palestinian leaders aren't willing to work together.

Mr. Earnest also used the term "reality check" during Friday's press briefing.

While Palestinian and Israeli leaders continue to express openness to a peace agreement, each side has taken steps recently that have derailed talks.

Earlier this week, Israel failed to release a group of Palestinian prisoners, as it had promised to do. In an apparent response, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas began the process of applying for membership in 15 international organizations — something the Palestinian leadership had agreed not to do.

Those actions and others have dimmed the prospects for peace, but the White House continues to hold out hope.

"We remain committed to this task because the stakes are high," Mr. Earnest said.

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