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Palestinian Authority Official Downplays Kerry Visit, U.S. Peace Process Efforts

A top Palestinian Authority official has dismissed an upcoming visit by Secretary of State John Kerry designed to bring Palestinian negotiators back to the peace process table:

The Palestinian Authority does not believe that US Secretary of State John Kerry – who is returning to the region on Thursday – will carry new ideas that will lead to the resumption of peace talks with Israel, a PA official in Ramallah said Monday. The official’s remark came shortly after PA President Mahmoud Abbas met in his office with US Consul-General Michael Ratney and discussed with him Kerry’s efforts to revive the peace process.

U.S. officials in the region have consistently been met with dismissals by Palestinian officials and hostility by the Palestinian public. Kerry’s first trip to the region as Secretary of State, which he made with President Barack Obama, was met with widespread demonstrations in West Bank towns. Protesters tore down a billboard image of Obama’s face, spray-painted it with a swastika, and then left it on the street to be driven over by cars.

Kerry’s upcoming trip will be his fourth to the region in his current position as Secretary of State. It is expected that he’ll present a package of incentives and proposals to the parties.

The Palestinian position contrasts sharply with Israeli declarations. The PA official’s statements brushing aside the Kerry visit comes as Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni spoke to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in Israel’s Knesset to emphasize Jerusalem’s express support for U.S. peace efforts. An Israeli official, asked to comment explicitly on the Palestinian statemetns about Kerry, was blunt:

One Israeli government official dismissed these comments as “cheap,” “superficial” and “not serious.” The process with Kerry is ongoing, the Israeli official said. “There is a very serious effort going on to restart the talks,” he said. “We sincerely hope the effort will succeed, and we hope the Palestinians will be a partner in the process.”

[Photo: U.S. Department of State / Wiki Commons]