By Mick Krever, CNN
“The era of these negotiations is over,” right-wing Israeli Minister Naftali Bennett told CNN’s Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Wednesday.
“The approach that we’ve been trying for twenty years now clearly has reached its end,” Bennett, who is chairman of the Jewish Home party, said.
“Everyone understands it’s going nowhere. Everyone in the world gets it. So why are we bashing our heads again and again?”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has waged a huge campaign over the past year to push forward negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, but the progress has stalled in the past week.
Speaking before congress on Tuesday, Kerry described the moment things fell apart.
“Unfortunately, the [Palestinian] prisoners weren’t released [by Israel] on the Saturday they were supposed to be released,” he said. “And so [a] day went by, day two went by, day three went by – and then in the afternoon when they were about to maybe get there, seven hundred settlements were announced in Jerusalem.”
“And ‘poof!’ That was sort of the moment,” Kerry said.
“That doesn’t portray what actually happened,” Bennett said in reaction, putting blame instead on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whom he said has refused to discuss “recognizing Israel as the Jewish homeland.”
Mustafa Barghouti, member of the Palestine Liberation Organization Central Council, attributed blame for the breakdown to Israel, as Kerry seemed to do.
“There were two deals to have negotiation until the end of April, and another deal, another agreement, that Israel would release 104 Palestinian prisoners,” Barghouti said.
In exchange for that, he told Pleitgen, “the Palestinians [would] suspend their applications to different…different treaties.”
“Israel violated that agreement. That’s exactly what Mister Kerry said.”
Whether Kerry can bridge the extreme difference of opinion – and mend the collapse – remains a mystery.