The Middle East peace talks aren’t officially dead, but a surprise move Tuesday has worsened its prognosis.
Secretary of State John Kerry canceled his Wednesday trip to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, after the Palestinian leader renewed his bid for statehood on Tuesday by signing paperwork to join 15 international agencies.
U.S. and Israeli officials have stressed that Palestinians shouldn’t use the agencies, and bypass the U.S. facilitated talks, to gain statehood.
Abbas said at a signing ceremony Tuesday that he doesn’t want to “collide” with the United States, but that the decision was in response to Israel not releasing a fourth round of prisoners as scheduled.
Kerry’s announcement to reporters in Brussels that the meeting had been called off marks a quick turnaround from reports earlier Tuesday that a deal to extend negotiations was likely to be announced this week.
A senior State Department official told The Washington Post that the deal Kerry had planned to announce would have included Palestinians agreeing to not press for official statehood through the United Nations. The deal would have also called for Israel to release prisoners and curb housing construction.
The Obama administration was also reportedly considering releasing Jonathan Pollard, an Israeli spy currently serving a life sentence, as part of the peace talks.
Abbas’s decision is the latest bump in the perpetually turbulent talks to resolve the long-standing issue. The two sides have until the end of April to reach a framework for moving forward, and Kerry stressed that the process isn’t over.
“All I can tell you is that we are continuing, even now as I am standing up here speaking, to be engaged with both parties to find the best way forward,” he said.
What We're Following See More »
With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:
- An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clinton leading Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary Johnson at 7%.
- A McClatchy-Marist poll gave Clinton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way ballot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
- Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”
Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."
Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."