Secretary of State, John Kerry meets with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Villa Taverna in Rome, December 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is ending 2014 much in the same way he started it, frustrated in efforts to push Israel and Palestinians toward peace.With a diplomatic showdown looming this past week over Arab plans to force Israel from occupied Palestinian lands within three years, Kerry prepared for a trip to Jordan in hopes of finding a calmer alternative.It also showed how unlikely it is that Kerry can help restart peace talks soon, much less achieve the lasting truce he long has hoped to arrange.Last January, Kerry was immersed in the latest round of peace talks that were set to expire in late April. He started the year on a plane to occupied Jerusalem, where he was greeted by Palestinian protests, threats of new Israeli settlement construction and criticism from U.S. officials over how the Obama administration was handling the delicate negotiations.Soon afterward, Abbas agreed to form a unity government with Palestinian political rival Hamas, which Israel and the U.S. consider a terrorist organization. Israel angrily cut off the peace negotiations.Tensions between Israel and Palestinians remained high, and spiked last month.Dennis Ross, a former U.S. diplomat and Mideast peace negotiator, said the "pretty sour atmosphere" between Israelis and Palestinians probably will prevent a final peace deal soon.
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