As he zigzagged between Jerusalem and Ramallah during his current visit to the region, US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday surprised a group of student leaders during a briefing by US State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

The student leaders, who were traveling in Israel with the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange, were amazed to have Kerry drop by at the meeting just as Psaki was briefing the delegates on the ongoing negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, in which Kerry plays a pivotal role.

Project Interchange, an educational institute of the AJC, brings small, targeted groups to Israel for week-long intensive visits focusing on their areas of interest, and this group of student leaders includes several editors-in-chief of campus publications. Their interview skills were put to the test when Kerry offered to field questions personally on the ongoing negotiations.

One student participant asked Kerry about the possibility of the negotiations bearing fruit in a peaceful resolution, to which Kerry responded, “I remain hopeful and a believer in the possibility.”After the session, Kerry left for Ramallah, where he met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Prior to Kerry’s arrival, the briefing with Psaki and other State Department players covered issues including Syria, relations in the region, and P5+1 negotiations with Iran, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. 

During their time in Israel, the students on the program met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in both Israel and the West Bank and were exposed to different points of view on issues relating to Middle East peace.