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Kerry Cites Some Progress in Mideast Talks

Scott Bobb

VOA, JERUSALEM — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has briefed leaders in Jordan and Saudi Arabia on his latest efforts to boost the Israeli - Palestinian peace talks. Kerry said Sunday, before leaving Israel, that some progress has been made but much work still needs to be done.

Secretary of State Kerry arrived in Jordan following four days of intensive talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Before leaving Jerusalem, he told reporters that his conversations had been intensive and productive.

"We are not there yet but we are making progress, and we are beginning to flesh out the toughest hurdles yet to be the overcome," he said.

Kerry met three times with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. He told reporters afterwards the parties were discussing a framework to guide negotiations on a final settlement.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said this should include all the core issues.

“No one benefits more from the success of Secretary Kerry's efforts than the Palestinians. And no one stands to lose more of [from] failure than Palestinians," he said.

Kerry also met three times with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who praised Kerry’s efforts, but said at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting that serious concerns remain.

He said the Palestinians continued to resist recognition of the Jewish state, "our right to be here." The Israeli leader said there were many other issues, but that was a fundamental problem.

An analyst at the U.S. Institute for Peace (Center for Conflict Management), Neil Kritz, said Kerry’s proposed framework was aimed at building trust and confidence on both sides.

“That hopefully is one of the pieces that can push them to make the decisions, commit to certain measures that they are not willing to or able to do at their own initiative,” said Kritz.

Aaron David Miller of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars said no one wanted to be blamed for the failure of the talks, but this did not ensure that they would succeed.

“It is all about whether or not this satisfies the individual and national interests of these leaders, not John Kerry’s personality. He can be the facilitator or the bridge but in the end this will rise and fall, if it is meaningful, on the basis of whether or not Abbas and Netanyahu believe that it is in their own interests and they can sell it. And that is going to be driven largely by the substance,” he said.

Kerry said he plans to brief the Arab League on the talks and is to return soon for more discussions.

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Kerry: Israeli Settlements Should Not Derail Peace Talks

VOA News, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says new Israeli settlement activity should not derail peace talks with the Palestinians.



Kerry said during a visit to Bogota, Colombia, on Monday that "the United States of America views all of the settlements as illegitimate." But he added that the issue of settlements is best resolved by solving the problems of security and borders during talks.

Israel Sunday approved building almost 1,200 new homes in occupied areas claimed by the Palestinians for a future state. They include parts of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Palestinian officials say the move is an attempt to undermine the peace process. An Israeli government spokesman says the new homes will be in areas Israel will likely keep in any peace deal.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are set to resume peace talks Wednesday in Jerusalem. U.S. negotiator Martin Indyk will also attend.

On Monday, Israel published the names of 26 long-held Palestinian prisoners it plans to release ahead the talks.

Most of the Palestinians to be freed were jailed in the late 1980s and early 1990s for murder and attempted murder of Israelis and suspected Palestinian collaborators.

Israel agreed to free 104 inmates in stages. But their release depends on the progress of the U.S.-backed peace talks. Opponents of the prisoner release call it a reward for terrorism.

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Kerry, Netanyahu Meet as Israel Stresses Security

 

Secretary Kerry is shuttling between Jerusalem and Jordan's capital, Amman, in hopes of jumpstarting Middle East peace talks


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a bid to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

The two men held talks over a working dinner late Thursday in Jerusalem. They made no public comments before the meeting.

Earlier Thursday, Netanyahu said Israel will not waiver on its security concerns.

"We want peace because we want to live in peace. It's true, we don't want a bi-national state, but don't let anyone be under the illusion that if we make an agreement with the Palestinians this agreement will end the violent slur against the state of the Jews," said Netanyahu.

Secretary Kerry is shuttling between Jerusalem and Jordan's capital, Amman, in hopes of jumpstarting Middle East peace talks, which have been at an impasse in recent years.

Earlier Thursday, Kerry met with Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman.

In Amman, Kerry said Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas share "a serious commitment of purpose." But the top U.S. diplomat warned that both leaders will be tested by those who do not want peace talks to succeed.

Kerry is scheduled to meet with Abbas in Amman on Friday.

On Wednesday, Israel announced plans to build dozens of new housing units in an East Jerusalem settlement, triggering anger from some Palestinian officials. Israeli settlement construction has been a stumbling block in Middle East peace talks.

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