Middle East reality: Both sides must bury the past if talks are to resume

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The hardest-working man in the Middle East is Secretary of State John Kerry. Last week he revved up his shuttle diplomacy with the region's leaders in the hopes of resurrecting the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

On Thursday he met in Jerusalem for four hours with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. Friday morning he was in Amman, Jordan, for a two-and-half-hour meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Then Friday afternoon he helicoptered back to Israel for another session with the Israelis.

News reports surrounding Mr. Kerry's travels say hopes are rising in the Middle East for renewed talks, which haven't been held directly since 2010.

But the aura of optimism must be tempered with reality.

The Palestinians' chief negotiator scolded Israel Thursday for advancing plans for construction of 69 apartments in southern Jerusalem, on territory taken in the 1967 war. The next day, the leader of the Palestinians' Hamas branch, which governs Gaza, urged Mr. Abbas, who leads the Fatah branch, which dominates the West Bank, not to fall "into the trap of talks" and to work for Palestinian unity first.

So old grievances fester. That means restarting the talks will need more than a globetrotting John Kerry. It means that both sides must be willing to break with the past if their hopes for peace are sincere.

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