'You Could Bang Your Head on This for Years'

U.S. Will Drop Peace Process if Israelis, Palestinians Aren't Serious, Senior American Official Warns

U.S, official rejected claims that Secretary of State John Kerry is 'naive' in his efforts to revive peace negotiations.

If U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry determines that Israelis and Palestinians are not serious about the peace process, he will abandon his efforts on the matter, a senior U.S. official told Reuters.

In an article by Arshad Mohammed, the Reuters journalist responsible for covering the State Department in Washington, the reporter cited those who called Kerry a "Lone Ranger" condemning the Middle East peace process, and that many involved call Kerry "naive."

The senior U.S. official disputed the notion that Kerry was naive and said the Obama administration was prepared to abandon the effort if it decides the two sides are not genuine about pursuing peace.

"That's what shows he's not naive," said the official of Kerry's willingness to pull back if he does not see both sides as ready. "There's too many things going on in the world ... You could bang your head on this for years and years and years".

Kerry's deadline for deciding whether there is any point in continuing diplomatic efforts to renew talks is nearing, while both sides are hardening their negotiating positions. Kerry expects answers from Jerusalem and Ramallah within two weeks.

For now Kerry is continuing his efforts. Over the weekend he spoke twice on the telephone with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and made it clear he expects a positive response on restarting peace negotiations. Jordanian foreign minister Nasser Judeh, who met Sunday with Abbas in Ramallah, said at the end of the meeting that Kerry expects to return to the region "within days" for his fifth visit in two and a half months since he took office on February 1.

On Monday night Kerry will be the keynote speaker at the annual American Jewish Committee Global Forum in Washington and he will speak broadly about his efforts to restart the peace process. Kerry will meet today with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is also attending the AJC conference.

Jordan's Judeh told Abbas at their meeting that Jordan supports renewing direct negotiations with Israel. He offered to hold talks between senior Israeli and Palestinian officials in Amman under American and Jordanian auspices, similar to the talks that were held at the end of 2011.

For now, it seems that Abbas is not responding to American and Jordanian pressure. Abbas reiterated to Judeh that a freeze on settlement construction  and the release of Palestinian prisoners is the way to create an atmosphere that will allow for negotiations to restart.