John Kerry’s early arrival in Israel for prep meetings before the President’s arrival and the announcement of his intention to return after the Jordan trip to meet with Bibi on Saturday night, sends two important signals which should not be ignored amidst the “fun and games” that these 48 hours are producing. Both suggest the interests and focus on the new Secretary of State as well as the White House.
First, when Kerry arrived at Foggy Bottom he reiterated his interest and commitment to try to work on moving Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. The fact that he did not drop in during his first round of diplomatic visits looks like it may well be even more compensated for by his focus now. The prep meetings were therefore an effort to begin the process so that perhaps a statement can emerge to this effect even before Obama leaves the region.
Second, Kerry is saying very clearly that he is willing to get his hands dirty to try to move the peace process along; even if it presents the frustrations that he knows it has always presented. Unlike the President and Hillary, Kerry must believe that has had longer and more on-going contacts with the parties as Senator. His sense must be that he has relationships upon which he can now draw. Finally, since Kerry lost his opportunity to be President,he would like to have a major accomplishment at State for the history books. He has gotten a green light from a very skeptical President to try it.
We shall see as thing develop.