STATE DEPARTMENT - In the wake of stalled U.S.-mediated peace talks, Palestinians have presented a draft resolution to the United Nations that would set a deadline for Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories. An increased focus on U.N. action could affect U.S. diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said there were ‘pent-up” frustrations on both sides and they ran deep.
“Many of us share a deep sense of urgency about this, given the constant threat of escalation and the dangers of a downward spiral of violence,” he said.
In comments from London, he cited several recent incidents that have raised tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, including the death of Zaid Abu Ein. The Palestinian minister died after a confrontation with an Israeli police officer.
Kerry also cited an acid attack carried out by a Palestinian hitchhiker that injured members of an Israeli family.
Kerry has held talks this week with officials, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, in a bid to diffuse tensions and encourage both sides to return to the negotiating table.
But Palestinians, frustrated by the slow pace of progress in talks, are looking to the U.N. Security Council -- with hopes of getting support in the form of a resolution.
“We do not have any problem with them filing some resolution, providing it is done in the spirit of working with people to see how we can proceed forward in a thoughtful way that solves the problem and does not make it worse,” Kerry said.
But it was a U.S. loss of clout in the peace talks that has played a role in the pivot towards a U.N. resolution, said Middle East analyst Khaled Elgindy.
“The fact that this process has dragged on for more than two decades is the main reason that Palestinians are looking to alternative forms to try and achieve their political goals. And, they are not alone,” said Elgindy.
He said delays increased the likelihood of U.N. action.
“I think there is a lot of international frustration with the lack of progress that the United States has made,” Elgindy said.
Despite delays, the U.S. role remained as important as ever, said Middle East expert Michele Dunne.
“The United States is the only party with a close enough relationship -- and this enormous defense relationship -- with Israel that can actually both press Israel a bit and make the Israelis feel safe in any kind of negotiating process,” she said.
Kerry said the United States was focused on reducing the violence and what he called the “sense of confrontation.” He said the most constructive efforts for the peace process would come through consultations.