The rumors of the peace process' demise have been greatly exaggerated, if you believe the Americans. US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have both insisted Thursday that they have not given up on the peace process.
President Obama failed to mention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his major foreign policy speech on Wednesday at West Point, but that does not mean the issue is off the White House's agenda.
"I have not yet given up on the possibility that both Israelis and Palestinians can see their self-interest in a peace deal that would provide Israel security that's recognized by its neighbors and make sure that Palestinians have a state of their own," President Obama told NPR.
"I refuse to give up. I think that, you know, we have to find the way ahead. This hasn’t gone away in 40, 50 years, and it’s not going to suddenly just sort of solve itself by itself. That’s our job is to try to push the process forward," Secretary of State Kerry told PBS in a lengthy interview.
This isn't the first time since a series of unilateral steps has caused the collapse of the most recent round of peace talks that American officials have insisted the fight has not quite exhausted itself.
Last week, State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf warned both Israel and the Palestinians of making any further unilateral moves, stressing the United States was still interested in pursuing Middle East peace.
Harf also stressed that Martin Indyk intends to resume his role as US special envoy to the Middle East peace process, and that he has not made any announcement of retirement. "He's here. He's working. I don't have any predictions to make ... about staffing going forward. You guys are kicking him out the door before he's gone."
While Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is busy forming a unity government with Hamas - a terror organization calling for the annihilation of Israel - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told Jeffrey Goldberg in an interview for Bloomberg that the option of making unilateral steps was on the table for Israel.
"President Abbas has said that he is prepared to go back to the talks, but he has certain conditions that have to be met. Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel are waiting to see what happens with the Hamas reconciliation, with the announcement of a new government, with the question of what that new government may or may not choose to do. That’s an appropriate thing to be doing. We’re all waiting to see what happens," Kerry said Thursday.
The secretary of state asserted that "neither side is going to be able to live for the long haul with the status quo without serious problems evolving." This, he said, is what will eventually bring both sides back to the table.
"Eventually there’ll have to be some discussion about some management of that process. Whether it’s a full-blown peace process or whether it’s individual steps or not, I don’t know," Kerry said, adding that he believed a diplomatic solution would best serve both sides' interests.
"I know this, that Israel’s security, which is paramount for the United States and for Israelis, will be better protected by finding a road ahead. Palestinian rights and – and ability to have a state can only come through some kind of political process. And both of those aspirations are what govern life ultimately in that region and the hopes of that region," he added.