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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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Israel Frees Palestinian terrorists Before Peace Talks

WJC, Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators are due to convene Wednesday in Jerusalem after a three-year stand-off ended with a first round preliminary talks in Washington last month. Follow-up meetings are expected every few weeks in venues including Jericho in the West Bank in pursuit of US Secretary of State John Kerry's goal of clinching a peace accord within nine months. On Tuesday, Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners who served jail sentences for terrorism offenses.

Israel’s announcement to build new houses in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim to be part of their state has caused controversy. However, the release of the 26, the first batch of 104 Palestinians serving long jail terms in Israel, may improve Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's domestic standing despite his having dropped demands to condition peace talks on a halt to settlement building.

Hundreds of their relatives gathered in the presidential compound in Ramallah in the early hours of Wednesday, waving Palestinian flags and greeting their arrival with tears and chants. Abbas greeted each of the eleven prisoners released to the West Bank with kisses on both cheeks. He locked hands with some of the prisoners making victory signs on a high stage and basked in waves of flash photography. "We congratulate ourselves and our families for our brothers who left the darkness of the prisons for the light of the sun of freedom. We say to them and to you that the remainder are on their way, these are just the first," Abbas told the crowd.

In Gaza, when the other fifteen prisoners crossed an Israeli checkpoint into Palestinian territory, their family members fired guns and set off fireworks.
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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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Netanyahu: Peace Talks with Palestinians Will Be Tough

 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that some details were still being worked out but that if all goes well, Palestinian and Israeli officials would travel to Washington for initial talks

VOA News

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has assured his Cabinet that any results from resumed negotiations with the Palestinians will be put to a national referendum.

His comment Sunday follows a U.S. brokered agreement to restart long-stalled peace talks between the two sides. Netanyahu told his ministers the process will not be easy, but that Israel's approach will be sincere. He said he hopes the talks will be handled responsibly and practically.

The last direct talks collapsed in 2010. Borders, refugees, security, Jewish settlements and Jerusalem are among the difficult issues that have not been resolved.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that some details were still being worked out but that if all goes well, Palestinian and Israeli officials would travel to Washington for initial talks within the next week or two.

Kerry announced the agreement for resuming negotiations after meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas several times during a four-day visit to Jordan.

White House officials said President Barack Obama spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday to ask him to work with Kerry to "resume negotiations with the Palestinians as soon as possible."

Israeli officials said Saturday that they would release a "limited" number of Palestinian prisoners as a gesture for resuming talks, but have not given further details.

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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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