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A threat Israel must listen to

Remember when the U.S. used to call itself “the honest broker” in the Middle East, conjuring the image of blind justice holding scales between the Palestinians and the Israelis? You do not hear this term anymore. The “honest” part has long been too silly to stand, and for three years there has not been anything to broker.

Now there is — well, there may be. Good for Secretary of State John Kerry and his Kissingeresque diplomacy. Home after his sixth trip to the region in just a few months, he might bring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, the (unelected) Palestinian leader in the West Bank, to the negotiating table. We'll have to see. But whichever way Kerry’s efforts turn out, they bring the welcome suggestion of motion to the planet’s most intractable political question and one of its grossest humanitarian crises.

Look closely and you do find movement, believe it or not. But ironically enough, this will not come from any bilateral talks, which are supposed to take place in Washington. They are fatally flawed, a sort of diplomatic burlesque, and we will go into that in a minute. No, the prospect of even a modest advance comes from, of all people, those mild-mannered Europeans.

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