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Kerry to meet with Palestinian negotiators
Published Wednesday 03/09/2014 (updated) 04/09/2014 17:19
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Palestinians sit inside their destroyed house after returning home in
the Tufah neighborhood in eastern Gaza City on Aug. 31, 2014
(AFP/File Mahmud Hams)
WASHINGTON (AFP) -- US Secretary of State John Kerry wades back into the tumult of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Wednesday, meeting Palestinian negotiators for the first time since the seven-week war in Gaza ended.

The talks come just days after Israel announced its biggest grab of Palestinian land since the 1980s, and as a new showdown looms at the United Nations with the increasingly frustrated Palestinians planning to push a resolution setting a three-year deadline to end the Israeli occupation.

It will be Kerry's first face-to-face talks with Palestinian negotiators since Washington found itself sidelined from the Gaza ceasefire talks in July, when Kerry, the top US diplomat, failed to broker a truce in the war between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

It was a further blow after Kerry's high-profile bid to hammer out a full peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinian Authority collapsed spectacularly amid bitter recriminations in April, despite him shuttling back and forth to the region more than a dozen times during his first year in office.

The veteran diplomat was expected to speak with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by telephone on Tuesday before meeting Palestinian negotiators Saeb Erakat and Majid Faraj, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

"I think they'll talk about a range of issues. There's obviously an ongoing ceasefire discussion and upcoming negotiations that will take place. There's a range of longer-term issues," Psaki said Tuesday, asked about the talks taking place the next day.

More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip, the vast majority of them civilians, which ended last week with an open-ended ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militant groups, brokered by Egypt.

The two sides are supposed to meet soon in Cairo for negotiations on a long-term truce, but no date has been announced yet for the start of the talks.

'Eroding support'

Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid warned Tuesday that Israel was eroding its international support, complaining the security cabinet had not been consulted about Sunday's announcement of the confiscation of 4,000 dunams (1,000 acres) of land in the occupied West Bank for settlement building.

"Maintaining the support of the world was already challenging, so why was it so urgent to create another crisis with the United States and the world?" Lapid, a centrist, told a conference in Tel Aviv.

And Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, a cabinet moderate who served as chief negotiator in abortive US-brokered peace talks, also slammed the land grab. "It weakens Israel and threatens its security," she said.

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, whose far-right Jewish Home party draws much of its support from the settler lobby, defended the move as retaliation for the murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank earlier this year.

Psaki renewed US warnings about continued Israeli settlement building, saying such steps "are contrary to Israel's stated goal of negotiating a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians" and would "send a very troubling message."

She called on the Israeli government to "reverse this decision," while warning against "any unilateral steps that undermine the prospects for a negotiated two-state solution."

The PLO now intends to seek a UN Security Council resolution setting a three-year deadline for ending the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

"We will be seeking a Security Council resolution on ending the occupation on a specific date. We should know that the occupation will end within three years," Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the PLO, told reporters, without saying when the resolution would be put forward.

She admitted Washington would likely veto any such resolution, and Psaki stressed "our view has long been that there are a range of productive ways to have discussions about how to achieve a two-state solution. Typically, that's not through international governing bodies."
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1 ) joefattal / USA
03/09/2014 16:08
Israel need to seriously agree with the Palestinians to end their occupation before its too late. To create a stable government, a united one with secure borders that will make IS uncapable to infiltrate and be knocking at Israel back door. They are after an unstable government as in Iraq, and Syria. Next in line would be Palestinian territories, it is an unstable government where IS will be glad to infiltrate and take advantage of. I think it would be for the best interest of both. But

2 ) JoeFattal / USA
03/09/2014 16:14
Cont....again Israel think they are invincible which proved wrong in their last war with Hamas. So its up to them to make peace for their own sake and the Palestinians. IS is a very organize force that uses very advance weapons that were confiscated from the Iraqi and from the Syrian Army, they are not Hamas with unguided rockets. So the ball is in Israel court, they want to keep, they going to regret later on.

3 ) inbound39 / New Zealand.
03/09/2014 17:18
Palestinians would be wise to ignore America. They owe America nothing. America supplies weapons and Ammunition to Israel which it uses to kill Palestinians. America deserves no respect from Palestinians.

4 ) Canadian / Canada
03/09/2014 18:58
Canada and US provide a lot of aid to Palestinians. Iran provides lots of arms to Palestine, while US provides arms to Israal. JoeFattal - I am not sure there was any "winner" in the recent war. If 2000 Palestinians were lost, that is a big price for what??

5 ) inbound39 / New Zealand
03/09/2014 19:45
$6 million a day for fifty days is a high price to pay to maintain the Occupation and illegal settlements. Add to that the bans in many countries of settlement products and the effect of BDS which is growing. Just shows how sick the Zionists are. Imagine if they spent all that lost money on Israel proper. All they have achieved is turning the World against them even more.
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