John Kerry and Benjamin Netanyahu meet in attempt to salvage Israeli-Palestinian peace talks; US accuses China of "provocation" in South China Sea; pro-government majority expected in Thailand's Senate election; and more 

Top of the Agenda

U.S., Israel Meet to Salvage Mideast Peace Talks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Tuesday (Haaretz) morning in a last-ditch effort to salvage stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The United States is now working to secure Palestinian approval for the deal, which would include the release of Palestinian prisoners (BBC) and a one-year extension of the negotiations. Israeli officials also said the United States and Israel are close to an agreement (NYT) on prematurely releasing convicted spy Jonathan Pollard from prison in exchange for Israeli concessions on settlements that would allow the talks to continue beyond an end-of-April deadline. U.S. defense and intelligence officials have consistently argued against releasing Pollard, a former civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy, who is serving a life sentence.

Analysis

"This isn't the first time that Pollard's release has been floated in the midst of U.S.-brokered Middle East peace talks. In 1998, President Bill Clinton was prepared to release Pollard during the summit at Wye River, Md., but the effort was scuttled when intelligence officials protested and then-Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet threatened to resign. That reveals the depths of U.S. spies' animosity toward Pollard, whom many regard as one of the most harmful spies in recent history," writes Shane Harris for Foreign Policy.

"The U.S. administration has one major thing going for it: Neither Netanyahu nor Abbas wants the process to collapse, nor does either want to be held responsible for its failure. Both would be pleased to preserve the status quo," writes Barak Ravid for Haaretz.

"Netanyahu could just have easily skipped the hurdle of this prisoner release, including a delay of the fourth "pulse" over which all of the debate is now focused, if he would just agree to freeze construction in the settlements. The problem is that right-wing domination of his rule prevents him from choosing that track," writes Mazal Mualem for Al-Monitor.

 

Pacific Rim

Washington Criticizes Chinese ‘Provocation’

The United States criticized China (AFP) for provocation after a Chinese coast guard attempted to block a Philippine vessel on Saturday near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. In response, Chinese state media accused the Philippines on Tuesday of violating international law by seeking UN arbitration.

This CFR Infoguide delves into the complex issues surrounding China's maritime disputes.

THAILAND: Unofficial results (Reuters) from Thailand's Senate election suggest a pro-government majority, a boon for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who is battling negligence charges.

This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org  

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