U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry canceled a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas planned for Wednesday in the Palestinian capital of Ramallah after a surprise move by the Palestinian leader to sign 15 international conventions. Abbas signed applications as the "State of Palestine" to join U.N. agencies and ratify international treaties, including the Geneva Conventions. Abbas hopes this will give Palestinians greater leverage against Israel however, he did not move toward joining the International Criminal Court, where the Palestinians could lodge formal complaints against Israeli presence in the West Bank. Meanwhile, on Tuesday Israel reissued tenders for 708 homes in the Jewish settlement of Gilo in East Jerusalem. From a NATO meeting in Brussels, Kerry said, "We urge both sides to show restraint while we work with them." Kerry insisted it is premature to write off Israeli-Palestinian peace talks saying, "There are a lot of possibilities at play." The recent hurdle to negotiations was triggered Saturday when Israel failed to release a final batch of Palestinian prisoners as part of an agreement that led to the resumption of talks in July 2013. Abbas said that Israel's failure to stick to the accord meant he no longer needed to maintain his commitment not to seek membership in international bodies.
- A third explosion has hit outside Cairo University in Egypt about two hours after two bombings in the same location killed a police chief and a civilian.
- Several attacks in Iraq Tuesday killed eight soldiers as campaigning began for May's general election.
- Clashes in Yemen's western al-Hadida province killed two soldiers and two al-Qaeda linked militants meanwhile eight people were killed when militants attacked an army complex in Aden.
- Lebanese troops have expanded operations into the Tripoli neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh in efforts to halt violence conducting raids that sparked Sunni Muslim cleric Omar Bakri Mohammad to flee the area.
Arguments and Analysis
'The Turkish Ballot-Box Revolt That Wasn't' (Sohrab Ahmari, The Wall Street Journal)
"'Politics have become an arena of gladiators and there is no possibility left for an honorable struggle,' wrote Ertugrul Ozkok, a columnist for the liberal, English-language Hurriyet Daily News, ahead of the vote. The Gezi generation, its hopes now crushed and its prospects looking limited, is likely to settle on waging an "honorable struggle" in the streets and on social media. What its members really need to do is to translate liberal politics into a solid agenda with broad appeal. The CHP and other legacy secularist parties may not be up to the task.
The AKP and Mr. Erdogan, meanwhile, would do well to remember that for Turkey to reach the ranks of the world's top-10 economies, as promised on the campaign trail, the country needs the participation and energy of people like Onur Dedeoglu and his compatriots. The Gezi generation is talented and highly employable-and it can also vote with its feet."
'John Kerry's Peace Talks Are Almost Dead. A Preemptive Obituary' (John B. Judis, New Republic)
"As I read the news today, the Doors' song, 'The End,' kept playing in my mind. ‘This is the end ... the end of an elaborate plan.' Maybe it isn't the end of American peace efforts, but it sure looks like it. Abbas was the most moderate leader that the Israelis have ever had to negotiate with, but Netanyahu was not ready to make a deal-his coalition itself was too divided-and the Obama administration was not willing to put the kind of pressure on him that might have led him to act boldly. Kerry deserves credit for initiating the negotiations-I doubt that without him, Obama would have done anything in his second term-but Kerry was largely on his own. There was little sign that Obama was willing to risk the furor that would greet any attempt to press Netanyahu hard to make concessions. So Kerry followed a familiar diplomatic script-shuttling between the sides, interminable discussions between teams of negotiators, frameworks, deadlines-but, sadly and perhaps predictably, it does not look like the play will have a happy ending."
-- Mary Casey
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