Abbas plays the “apply for international membership” card

John Kerry often seems like a man who can’t be discouraged, especially when he sniffs a Noble Peace Prize. But Kerry can’t be pleased by his latest humiliation.

With talks between the Secretary of State and Mahmoud Abbas scheduled for today, the PA president abruptly moved to join 15 international agencies, a move vigorously opposed by both Israel and the U.S. The Kerry-Abbas meeting was, accordingly, cancelled.

Abbas said he made this move because Israel has balked at releasing a fourth batch of terrorist prisoners. Israel balked because the “peace process” was going nowhere.

Kerry apparently dangled the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard as a means of inducing Israel to proceed with the prisoner release. Rather than wait to see if Israel takes the bait, Abbas decided to play the “apply for international membership” card.

Does mean that the “peace process” is dead? Not necessarily. As I see it, Israel is facing a carrot-stick situation, albeit not an orchestrated one. Pollard is the carrot; the PA’s move to join international organization is the stick.

If Kerry persists in lobbying Israel, there’s a decent chance that Israel will respond by releasing prisoners. Abbas might then return, albeit reluctantly, to the negotiating table. But reviving the talks and reaching an agreement are two very different things.

Only Kerry seems to think an agreement is plausible. And he’s the man who can’t be discouraged.

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