The Obama administration is under pressure to help calm the growing violence in Israel which has some warning of a third intifada, as Israel’s military steps up its response to deadly Palestinian attacks by deploying hundreds of troops.
Amid the unrest, Secretary of State John Kerry just announced plans to visit the region, and has spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
“We’re working on trying to calm things down,” he said Tuesday during an event at Harvard University. “And I will go there soon at some point appropriately and try to work to re-engage and see if we can’t move that away from this precipice.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest also cited that visit Wednesday when asked what President Obama is doing to address the crisis, saying Kerry will travel “in the near future.” He said the visit underscores the “continuing deep concern” the U.S. has and urged both sides to take “affirmative steps” to calm tensions.
Yet the State Department under both Hillary Clinton and now Kerry so far has been unable to push forward the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Relations between Obama and Netanyahu remain as chilly as ever — particularly after the Iran nuclear deal put them on opposite sides of the debate — and it’s unclear how much sway the administration still has in the volatile region.
Retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, a Fox News analyst, cited Netanyahu’s visit last month to Moscow to meet with Putin to discuss Syria. “He can see that Obama’s Middle East non-policy has failed utterly,” Peters said.
Kerry may be hoping his personal touch can help bring both sides together as tensions reach a critical point.
Tuesday was among the bloodiest days so far, as a pair of Palestinian stabbing and shooting attacks in Jerusalem killed three Israelis and another two attacks took place in the normally quiet Israeli city of Raanana. Three Palestinians, including two attackers, were also killed.
On Capitol Hill, U.S. lawmakers urged a stronger response from the administration.
Read More: Kerry planning Mideast visit as US faces pressure to calm violence in Israel | Fox News