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Kerry speaks to Netanyahu, Peres, Abbas about peace
Published Monday 04/02/2013 (updated) 05/02/2013 13:53
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New US secretary of state John Kerry (Reuters/File)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- US Secretary of State John Kerry stressed his commitment to promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace on Sunday in telephone calls to the leaders of both sides, the State Department said.

In separate conversations, Kerry, who took over as the top US diplomat from Hillary Clinton on Friday, spoke to President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.

"Turning to Middle East peace, the secretary underscored his personal commitment and that of President (Barack) Obama to support Israel's security and to pursue a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians." State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said of Kerry's conversation with Netanyahu.

A spokesman for the Israeli prime minister confirmed that the call took place but provided no details.

In his call to President Mahmoud Abbas, Kerry, former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reiterated his commitment to peace and promised to keep working with Congress to release budget support funds for the Palestinian Authority.

An Abbas aide told Reuters that Kerry told Abbas he was determined to facilitate the restart of stalled peace between the parties and that he hoped to be able to meet him soon, although no time or venue was set.

Nuland said Kerry spoke on Saturday to Israeli President Shimon Peres, who holds a largely ceremonial position. She declined all comment on when Kerry might travel to the region.

"The two men held a lengthy conversation on Saturday night and Peres said that the results of the recent general election could open a window for renewed peace talks," a Peres spokeswoman said in a statement.

Netanyahu, who has been asked by Peres to form a new coalition, said on Saturday that renewing talks with Abbas would be a top priority for his new government.

"The next government that I will form will be committed to peace. I call on Abut Mazen (Abbas) to return to the negotiating table. Every day that passes without us talking to jointly find a way to create peace for our peoples is a day wasted," he said.

The UN General assembly on Nov. 29 overwhelmingly upgraded the Palestinians status to that of "non-member state," prompting Israel to retaliate by withholding tax revenues owed to them as well as by announcing fresh plans for settlement construction.

However, Israeli officials said last week that they would release about $100 million in withheld tax revenues, a move that Kerry "commended ... as an important step" in his conversation with Netanyahu, the State Department said, adding that their discussion also covered Iran and Syria.
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1 ) AKeenReader / UK
04/02/2013 10:59
The Israeli PM said "the next govt that I will form will be committed to peace" seems to suggests that his current govt did not pursue peace with the Palestinains at all. Proves that he has been lying to the world all along. Don't believe any word which comes out of his mouth. He is bound to go to hell!

2 ) Mel / USA
04/02/2013 18:24
Don't just "release" the 100 million in withheld taxes Johnnie boy! FREEZE the $3-5 BILLION dollars,the USg FMF(&supplementals) has just sent to Israel in its ANNUAL GIFT of US tax money! The US economy is about to explode.Our US Congress won't stand up TO Zionist-Nazi-ideology &obeys foreign state Israel MORE than our own US CONSTITUTION or "We The People"(their employees).US Foreign Policy re:Israel,needs a TOTAL harsh revamp!Deal with the CAUSE(Zionism)first,BEFORE its effects!

3 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
04/02/2013 20:20
... and here's the missing part of this report: The media relations departments of the State of Palestine and Israel's Office of Prime Minister both reported President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu as having privately said what a stupid and wasted amount of time it was of the new U.S. Secretary of State to make such announcements of U.S. plans and hopes. Both said it would have been far better for Kerry to focus elsewhere instead of incessant butt-munching about resuming "peace" talks.

4 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
05/02/2013 18:19
... and here's the missing part of this report: The media relations departments of the State of Palestine and Israel's Office of Prime Minister both reported President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu as having privately said what a stupid and wasted amount of time it was of the new U.S. Secretary of State to make such announcements of U.S. plans and hopes. Both said it would have been far better for Kerry to focus elsewhere instead of incessant butt-munching about resuming "peace" talks.

5 ) gabi / australia
06/02/2013 09:14
Yehuda Solomon - where do you get your information from? As if you would be privy to private views of either Netanyahu or Abbas???

6 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
06/02/2013 17:42
@ 5), I'm being a bit sarcastic to convey both the style AND substance of my point ... My point is I firmly believe both were probably THINKING that ... Sorry if I miscommunicated to you or anyone otherwise ... No, I don't have private connections to private views ... (and don't blame me for double-posting ... MNA comments editors do a great job for everyone but sometimes they inadvertently post me twice ... just want you to know that).
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