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Yet Mr. Kerry ignores the elephant in the room, something he has done before in his belief that he can pull off an elusive Israeli-Palestinian agreement.

Thus, last year, Mr. Kerry promised the Palestinians that Israel would free jailed Arab-Israeli terrorists, even though Israel had given him no such undertaking. Now that unauthorized commitment has come back to haunt him — either he gets the Israelis to do what they never promised, or he gets the Palestinians to relent on a commitment they have repeatedly claimed in his presence that he himself gave them.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians are insulated from the choices that alone could produce peace. In short, the situation is a mess, not the sort of performance that ranks as professional diplomacy.

Daniel Mandel is a fellow in history at Melbourne University and director of the Zionist Organization of America’s Center for Middle East Policy.