The Saudi foreign minister called the rain that accompanied John Kerry’s latest visit “a good omen” but America’s top diplomat more likely felt he’d flown into a storm during his tenth visit to the region this week.
Outwardly, the US Secretary of State was upbeat about the ongoing process, despite recent difficulties including an Israeli vote to annex the Jordan Valley and a Palestinian threat to throw in the towel.
“The talks we’ve had have fleshed out and even resolved certain kinds of issues and presented new opportunities for others,” Kerry said. “That’s the name of this game. It’s a tough process, step-by-step, day-by-day.”
During his tenth visit to the region, Kerry acknowledged that he had had “very serious, very intensive conversations” with both Netanyahu and Abbas about the further compromises that will be needed.
He reserved specific praise for the two leaders, saying they “remained absolutely steadfast to this effort and committed to the notion of two peoples living side-by-side in peace and security”.
Yet it was Kerry’s security proposals for a future Palestinian state that were earlier rejected by chief negotiator Saeb Erekat – an ominous sign, given that security was seen as being among the less difficult issues to resolve.
Kerry’s visit took in other capitals, including Amman and Riyadh, as he sought Jordanian and Saudi backing for the peace push.