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Kerry says progress in peace talks, more work needed
Published Saturday 04/01/2014 (updated) 05/01/2014 22:02
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US Secretary of State John Kerry makes a statement to the press after
a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas at the presidential
compound, on January 4, 2014, in Ramallah (AFP/Brendan Smialowski)
RAMALLAH (AFP) - US Secretary of State John Kerry insisted Saturday he was making progress in tough talks with Israel and the Palestinians, but admitted more time was needed to agree a framework to guide the negotiations.

The top US diplomat emerged from his second round of talks with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas to say everyone was "working with great intensity" and commitment to try to overcome decades of animosity.

"We're not there yet, but we are making progress," Kerry said, adding he was to fly Sunday to Jordan and Saudi Arabia for talks with both countries' kings on the path forward.

"I'm confident that the talks we've had in the past two days have already fleshed out and even resolved certain kinds of issues and presented new opportunities for others," he said.

"We are beginning to flesh out the toughest hurdles yet to be overcome."

His 10th trip to the region has been clouded by bitter recriminations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, accusing each side of trying to scupper the talks.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat sought to counter snipes from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the Palestinians were not serious about peace.

"No-one stands to lose more from failure than the Palestinians," Erakat told reporters, shivering on a chilly night in the courtyard of Abbas's West Bank headquarters in Ramallah.

"Failure to us is not an option. We really are doing everything humanely possible to ensure the success of Secretary Kerry."

And he urged Israel to "refrain from any acts that may prejudice us or preempt the outcome of permanent status negotiations, i.e. settlement activity and home demolitions."

After his talks with Abbas, Kerry returned straight to Jerusalem and met Netanyahu one-on-one before the two men were to be joined by their teams.

Direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations had been frozen for almost three years, but after intense diplomacy by Kerry the two sides agreed to resume talks in July and vowed to remain at the table for the next nine months.

'Pressure to recognize Jewish state'

With the late April deadline looming, Kerry has pledged to work even more intensively with the two sides in the coming months.

US officials have refused to release any details about the framework which would guide the next phase of the talks. Kerry acknowledged Saturday it would not be agreed during this trip.

But a Palestinian source, who is close to the negotiations but asked to remain anonymous, told AFP that Abbas had come under pressure to agree to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Abbas had refused, the official said.

Palestinian hopes of having a third, international force brought in to help patrol the Jordan Vally under a peace deal had also been sidelined, he said.

Instead the US was proposing a mixed Israeli-Palestinian military presence to ensure security in the area which borders Israel, without setting a deadline when the Israeli troops would be withdrawn.

Kerry has said a peace treaty will deal with all the core issues dividing the two sides. These included the contours of a future Palestinian state, refugees, the fate of Jerusalem claimed by both as a capital, security and mutual recognition.

"Kerry proposed a new formula to resolve the issue of Jerusalem, but it's not clear and is ambiguous, and therefore we can't accept," the Palestinian source added.

Under the proposal, a unified Jerusalem would be the capital of both states without defining the outlines of east Jerusalem, the official said.

Netanyahu had apparently agreed to the idea, he added.

The Palestinians want the borders of their state to be based on the 1967 lines from before the Six-Day War, when Israel captured the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. They have also insisted there should be no Israeli troops in their future state.

But Israel wants to retain existing settlements it has built inside occupied Palestinian territory over the past decades. It also wants to maintain a military presence in the Jordan Valley.
1 ) maisie / uk
04/01/2014 22:22
While everyone is "working to great intensity to overcome decades of animosity", this farce and settlement expansion goes on and on. Perhaps the ethnic cleansing going on with the tacit collusion of the West is simply a ploy to enable the two parties to work together to overcome animosity. What a wretched disgrace!

2 ) spb / us
04/01/2014 23:08
There is still time for pals who never miss oppotunity to miss a big opportunity

3 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
05/01/2014 00:50
The elephants in the room remain: -Hamas in Gaza. Does Kery intend a 3-state solution? -Pal refugeee demands. Will it torpedo the talks? -Israeli security demands. Will the Jordan valley be solvable? -racism. Can the Palestinians overcome their Jew-hatred? How can Palestine will be the national homeland of the Palestinian people if Palestinians refuse to accept Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people? Stay tuned. Lots of work for the journalists/

4 ) Unrealistically / Optomistic
05/01/2014 05:33
After talks Between the USA and Canada or Mexico, - Kerry may be "confident about prospect of resolving major issues", but After talks Between the Israel and the Palestinian Authority, - Kerry may be MORE REALISTIC about prospect of resolving even minor issues, and MAJOR ISSUES like borders, Jerusalem, and refugee return rights will FOREVER remain UNRESOVABLE.

5 ) Kenesset Member Ahmed Tibi / Sorry Joke
05/01/2014 06:25
1- "The PA chief will never, ever concede the sovereignty of the Palestinian state, the issue of the Jordan Valley with an Israeli presence there, and 2- Eastern Jerusalem will be the capital of the Palestinian state, where any other proposal of a neighborhood here, Abu Dis there, is just a sorry joke, ” and thus 3- The Possibility of creating a real Palestinian state is also just A "SORRY JOKE", because PALESTINE WILL NOT BECOME A REALITY, without an agreement with Israel.

6 ) Simon / DE
05/01/2014 08:13
http://i2.wp.com/www.intifada-palestine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/graph.jpg?resize=580,268 Mister crap blabber Zionists biased,the list,these are the results the Reality of progress made in the negotiations.the US who financed the settlements,the weapons funding the occupation,U.S,UK and all others States who are involvedbe in the plight of the Palestinians must be indicted at the Hague

7 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
05/01/2014 12:34
Pretty chart, Simon. What about the charts for the Mister crap blabber Palestinians biased fools who financed Palestinien terrorists and supplied weapons and/or encouraged endorsed terror attacks (that's you, Simon) against civilians - must be tried at the Hague and jailed for life when found guilty. Thousands of Palestinian war crimes must be prosecuted, from blowing airplanes out of the sky to slitting women's throats at bus stops. Guilty. Must stop all like Simon who support Pal terror.

8 ) Sara from Israel not from / Occupied Palestine
05/01/2014 15:49
TO Brian Cohen; your comments are stupid un realistic and are like brain vomit. The only Terrorists on Palestinian soil ,are the IDF and the Settlers Zionists which you probably one of those.By the way,one day you'll find yourself and your settlers brothers as a foreigners with an Israeli passport in Palestine and you will find also that your arrogance no longer helps.

9 ) Samy / SA
05/01/2014 16:39
@-7 when the reality hurts,! - this time Your not get away with it,figure it that no one has pity for you and your fictional victims anymore. the genuine victims are the Palestinians Civilians terrorized into all life situations by Israel.

10 ) Mel / USA
05/01/2014 21:12
Of course ,the LEGAL thing for Kerry&Obama to do,is STOP ALL illegal aid,stipends,subs,checks from US TAXES,to Israel,stat! Until it ENDS its illegal military occupation of Palestine & collective punishment blockade/siege of Gaza!ALL WAR CRIMES!Or would Kerry have donated to Nazism's death/extermination camps too?You can't have it BOTH WAYS Kerry.There's no exception to universal rule of law &HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES!Equal Justice Under Law,doesn't mean US-CLIENTS ONLY!This is why USG is hated!!
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