Loading…
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Current Weather
Loading Current Weather....
HomeNewsWorld
Published: Sunday, 6/30/2013

Kerry says progress made in peace talks

ASSOCIATED PRESS
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas inside Muqataa, the Palestinian Presidential compound in the West Bank town of Ramallah. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas inside Muqataa, the Palestinian Presidential compound in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

TEL AVIV, Israel— U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday wrapped up four days of shuttle diplomacy on a positive note, saying he had considerably narrowed the gaps between Israel and the Palestinians and that the resumption of negotiations could be “within reach.”

Kerry delivered the assessment after a final, frantic day of diplomacy that included a late-night meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a last-minute meeting in the West Bank with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

“I know progress when I see it, and we are making progress,” Kerry said.

He would not elaborate, but said he would leave a team of aides in the region to continue the mediation efforts. He also said that at the request of both sides, he would return to the area in the near future.

The talks are aimed at establishing an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel as part of a final peace deal.

Kerry has been shuttling between the sides since taking office early this year in search of a formula for restarting negotiations, which broke down in 2008. This was his fifth trip to the region.

In the past, Abbas has said he won’t negotiate unless Israel stops building settlements on war-won lands or accepts its 1967 lines — before the capture of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem in a Mideast war that year — as a starting point for border talks. The Palestinians claim all three areas for their future state.

The Palestinians are also pushing Israel to release some of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners it is holding as a goodwill gesture.

Netanyahu has insisted that talks begin immediately without any preconditions.

Kerry said his meeting with Netanyahu stretched until nearly 4 a.m. Addressing his Cabinet Sunday, Netanyahu showed few signs of changing his positions.

“We will not compromise on security and there will be no agreement that will endanger Israelis’ security,” he said, adding that any final peace deal would go to a national referendum. Critics have said such a step would add an additional obstacle to passing a peace agreement.

Following Sunday morning’s meeting in Ramallah, the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, reported progress but that gaps remained.

“I cannot say we have a breakthrough,” he said. “All I can say once again is no one benefits more from the success of secretary Kerry more than the Palestinians, and no one stands to lose more from its failure than Palestinians.”

___

Associated Press writers Karin Laub and Mohammed Daraghmeh contributed to this report.



Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. If a comment violates these standards or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report abuse. To post comments, you must be a Facebook member. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.

Related stories