John Kerry tried to get the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to buck-up and smile. But he wasn't successful as he tries to broker peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Apparently, the Palestinians believe Kerry is giving too much favor to the Israelis. As the Los Angeles Times reports:
Palestinians still say Kerry's plan does not go far enough in forcing Israel to accept as a basis of talks the borders that existed before it seized additional territory in the 1967 Middle East War.
But despite Kerry's flurry of phone calls with Israelis and Palestinians on Friday, and a brief helicopter visit to the West Bank, he was unable to get Israel to accept the condition or persuade Palestinians to back down, Yousef said.
Palestinians' lackluster support was evident during a Ramallah photo op Friday with a smiling Kerry and somber Abbas. "Mr. President, you should look happy," Kerry said. Abbas did not respond.
And today the Jerusalem Post is reporting that Israel will free Palestinian prisoners:
Israel has agreed to a long-standing Palestinian demand to release Palestinian prisoners in order to resume peace talks, but will not yield on other central issues, International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Saturday.
US Secretary of State John Kerry announced Friday that Israel and the Palestinians have laid the groundwork for renewed direct peace talks, some three years after the previous attempt at negotiations fell apart.
"There will be some release of prisoners," Steinitz told Israel Radio. "I don't want to give numbers but there will be heavyweight prisoners who have been in jail for dozens of years," he said. The release would be carried out in phases, he added.
That should make Abbas smile.