Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Kerry Back to Push Both Sides

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

US Secretary of State John Kerry will be returning to the Middle East on Thursday. He will meet with both the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas revealed his strategy for the Kerry meeting when he welcomed back the Palestinian prisoners recently released from Israeli prison. Abbas made the point that his main objective is to secure the release of all prisoners.

Abbas said "this won't be the last time that prisoners are freed," and "there won't be a final agreement with Israel until all the prisoners are released."

The Palestinian leader was also very clear about his take on the Jordan River Valley. Abbas said "this is our land, and it will remain that way. This a red line on our part."

Abbas will secure his legacy in Palestinian history by forcing Israel to release prisoners. The Jordan Valley is actually less about the land than it is about the border. For Abbas and the Palestinians it is a practical issue, they are concerned about securing a border with Jordan.

Kerry will have his work cut out for him. 

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