John Kerry Arrives in Cairo in Bid to Broker Cease Fire Between Israel, Hamas

7/21/14
 
   < < Go Back
 
from The Wall Street Journal,
7/21/14:

U.S. Secretary of State to Meet With U.N.’s Ban Ki-moon, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi.

Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo Monday night for an open-ended round of shuttle diplomacy that his aides acknowledged had no certainty of succeeding.

The trip came as President Barack Obama made his strongest public push yet to bring an end to nearly two weeks of fighting, citing “serious concerns” about the growing numbers of deaths in Gaza in comments at the White House on Monday.

“It now has to be our focus and the focus of the international community to bring about a cease-fire that ends the fighting,” Mr. Obama said, speaking at the White House. “Obviously it will not be easy.”

Senior U.S. officials traveling with Mr. Kerry said the politics of the Middle East have shifted dramatically since the Obama administration intervened in 2012 to end an earlier round of fighting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and Hamas.

The officials said leading Arab and Mideast states are deeply divided over whether to bail Hamas out from its intensifying war with Israel and that Egypt’s new president, former general Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, had only limited sway over the Palestinian fighters.

Israeli officials also indicated they wouldn’t be deterred from finishing their military mission—which they describe as destroying Hamas’s tunnel networks—by the American diplomatic offensive.

Relations between Mr. Kerry and Israel’s government have noticeably cooled since the collapse in April of formal peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

On Sunday, the top American diplomat sparked controversy when he inadvertently was recorded talking to aide and questioned the “pinpoint” accuracy of Israel’s military operations in Gaza.

A former Israeli ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, told Israeli television Monday that Mr. Netanyahu’s government had “not invited” Mr. Kerry to try and broker a cease-fire.

Mr. Kerry met Monday night with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and is scheduled to meet Mr. Sisi and the secretary-general of the Arab League on Tuesday.

More From The Wall Street Journal (subscription required):