By Ray Fleming

John Kerry deserves praise and encouragement for getting the Israel and Palestinian negotiators to sit at the same table again after a stand-still since 2010. Admittedly, the talks due to start in Washington DC this morning are no more than “talks abut talks” at which the Israel Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and the veteran Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat will discuss how the difficult issues facing their leaders, Benyamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, can best be approached. It is sufficient to list only the most important of these issues -- borders, refugees, settlements, Jerusalem -- to recognise how far a resolution of differences and the possibility of establishing a two-State solution remain.

Nonetheless, with six visits to the region in a few months, Secretary of State Kerry has shown what can be achieved with determination and imagination. There can be no doubt that President Obama is the driving force behind Mr Kerry who has appointed Martin Indyk, a former US Ambassador to Israel, to lead the negotiations. Mr Indyk has spent much of his diplomatic career on the Israeli-Palestinian problem and was a key member of the team that so nearly achieved results in the Clinton Camp David talks of 2000. It remains a fact that an Israel-Palestinian solution can be found only with American leadership. A heavy responsibility rests with those launching the talks today.


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