WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reports that there has been some progress made in talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, but told reporters in Jordan that many issues still must be resolved. He also raised the specter of violence should a peace agreement not be reached. Now, some analysts are calling on Kerry to be more forceful.
Kerry said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reaffirmed their commitment to the peace process during meetings he had with them in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
"As long as there is this conflict and if the conflict frustrates yet again so that people cannot find a solution, the possibilities of violence of other kinds of confrontation of other alternatives become more real," said Kerry.
Analysts note that the peace process has been ongoing for more than two decades without a significant step forward. Bruce Jentleson, professor of public policy and political science at Duke University, told Alhurra television that the stalemate has been harmful to both sides.
"One of the few things that we keep seeing time and time again in the Middle East is, as hard as these things are today, they are harder tomorrow. And you have a whole generation on both sides that have been socialized into hatred and violence," said Jentleson.
Jentleson also pointed out that many young Palestinians may not necessarily join the Islamist group Hamas, but they have lost faith in the political process. He commended Kerry's determination to bring about a peace agreement but said Kerry should take a firmer stance.
"I also think he needs to take a fairly tough position - that he is there because peace between Israel and the Palestinians is in the U.S. interest, but he also needs to believe that the Israeli side - Prime Minister Netanyahu - really genuinely believes that he wants peace and is still negotiating over the details. And President Abbas as well. He needs to send a message that's helpful, but frankly is also pretty tough, as well," continued Jentleson.
Kerry also called Israel's continuing settlement construction illegitimate and said it should be kept to a minimum. The Palestinians have been increasingly frustrated by continuing Israeli settlement development in the occupied West Bank, and they have threatened to withdraw from the talks.
In an interview Thursday with Israeli and Palestinian reporters, Kerry issued a forceful message to Palestinians and Israelis alike: he warned that the alternative to peace could be a third Intifada.