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Inside the Kerry-Israel Meltdown

Inside the Kerry-Israel Meltdown

On Monday, Secretary of State Kerry took to the podium at the State Department to say that he was working with Israel and Hamas to negotiate an extension of their temporary ceasefire.

“Today, we are continuing to work toward establishing an unconditional humanitarian ceasefire, one that…will stop the fighting, allow desperately needed food and medicine and other supplies into Gaza, and enable Israel to address…the threat posed by tunnel attacks—and to be able to do so without having to resort to combat,” Kerry said.

An hour later, the Israeli military sent a text message to all Palestinians to stay in their homes and resumed strikes inside Gaza.

The resumption of violence was the latest example of just how disconnected Kerry’s whirlwind diplomatic efforts have been from the combatants he’s trying to get to stop fighting. The Israeli government has been particularly vocal in its criticism of Kerry’s peacemaker attempts. But in the Palestinian camps, there has been public discontent, too.

Ever since Kerry left the region Friday for Paris, he has been scrambling to patch together a series of short-term humanitarian ceasefires: first 12 hours, then another 4 hours. He was working on an extension Monday when the two parties decided to move on and resume their fighting. Kerry seemed unaware—or unwilling to admit—that his latest plan for a ceasefire extension was about to be rejected.

“We believe the momentum generated by a humanitarian ceasefire is the best way to be able to begin to negotiate and find out if you can put in place a sustainable ceasefire, one that addresses all of the concerns—the long-term concerns as well,” he said.

That was only the latest time the Israelis and Palestinians showed clearly that they were not interested in following Kerry’s lead. Twice in the past three weeks, for example, Kerry was forced to delay a deal-making trip to the region because of resistance from one side or the other. First, the Egyptians released their ceasefire proposal as Kerry was preparing to board the plane from Vienna to Cairo. Hamas rejected it immediately and Kerry stood down.

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