Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Israel and the West Bank aims at salvaging a peace process that is in all likelihood heading for collapse, and has both sides sharpening up their tone, to make it clear when that collapse does happen, it wasn’t their fault.
The biggest example of this effort is the already unofficially announced settlement expansions, which were supposed to come this week on the heels of prisoner releases. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to hold off on the announcement until Kerry leaves.
Announcement timing is a fairly minor point, but significant in this case because Israel has generally been putting its announcements of settlements into the most confrontational times possible, aiming to underscore their determination to keep expanding settlements no matter the cost.
The decision to delay the announcement specifically to avoid making it an issue underscores Netanyahu’s appreciation that, despite his own public claims, the settlements are very much a problem in the ongoing peace talks, and will be part of the reason for its collapse.