John Kerry's declaration that he intends to renew the push for peace between Israel and the Palestinians received a predictable roll of the eyes from diplomats around the world.
Many talented secretary of state predecessors failed at this mission. Nor could the timing seemingly be worse: Hamas rules Gaza, while Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing government is in office in Jerusalem.
Nor does the old incentive for pushing peace exist anymore. Some used to claim that solving the conflict was central to dealing with other problems in the region. But the Arab Spring challenged that view: People revolted against and overthrew their corrupt rulers with no mention of the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
But Kerry isn't necessarily wasting his time. Today, there is a unique and not commonly understood opportunity to move toward peace.
To grasp why, it's instructive to look at the ceasefire negotiated between Israel and Hamas in November 2012. That was achieved because regional powers pushed Hamas to stop firing rockets at Israel. This not only averted a full-fledged war, but also signaled in a very public way that Hamas had shifted from Iran's camp. Previously, Iran had been Hamas' chief patron and weapon supplier. But under the guise of the Arab Spring, the Sunni powers of Turkey and Egypt, as well as Qatar and the Gulf States, sought to weaken their rival Iran.