Kerry heads back to Israel for fourth time since February, continuing 'peace push'


US Secretary of State John Kerry arrives for a joint press conference between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem on March 20, 2013.


Saul Loeb

JERUSALEM — US Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Israel Thursday, determined to move the two collosi — Israel and the Palestinian Authority — closer to peace.

His fourth trip to Israel since he assumed office in February, Kerry is energetically shuttling between Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ramallah today in an effort to restart the talks that broke down in 2010.

Kerry began Thursday with a visit to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, praising the leader for his "seriousness" about resuming negotiations, according to Haaretz.

More from GlobalPost: Israel backs Kerry moves despite internal debates

"I know this region well enough to know that there is skepticism, in some quarters there is cynicism and there are reasons for it. There have been bitter years of disappointment," said Kerry, according to Reuters. 

"It is our hope that by being methodical, careful, patient, but detailed and tenacious, that we can lay out a path ahead that can conceivably surprise people but certainly exhaust the possibilities of peace," he added. 

Netanyahu expressed support for resuming talks. "It's something I hope the Palestinians want as well and we ought to be successful for a simple reason: when there's a will, we'll find a way," he said, according to Al Jazeera. 

Minister of Justice Tzippi Livni, who is Israel's representative to peace talks, said after meeting Kerry that "these are critical days ... we can't enter a blame game that will only impede people's efforts. The goal, and Israel's highest interest," is a return to talks.

Her Palestinian counterpart, Saeb Erekat, came out with similar words of support a few days ago. Kerry meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas later Thursday in Ramallah.

Israel's center-right government expressed its support for Kerry's peace efforts this week, as political leaders from important Israel parties pledged their support, including Ofer Shelah of the Yesh Atid party

Meanwhile, many Palestinians had a less rosy view of the proceedings, according to an Associated Press report, which noted that many felt the US push to restart the peace talks was "doomed," although they praised his efforts. 

"We don't have unrealistic expectations. We know the immensity of obstacles," senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said to the Associated Press. "If it doesn't work, of course we have our own plans."

The negativity surrounding Kerry's efforts is being covered by some as much as the secretary's actual moves.

Referring to Kerry (positively) as a Don Quixote, "tilting at windmills, fighting the good fight, engaged in a hopeless campaign of which the monotonously tragic end is more than certain," Haaretz columnist Chemi Shalev writes:

If I have to choose between him and all the multitudes of battle-hardened wise and experienced know-it-alls who have brought us to where we are now – I know who I’m rooting for.