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Israel Seeking to Extend Peace Talks Beyond April Deadline

  • VOA News

FILE - Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, May 7, 2013.

FILE - Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, May 7, 2013.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon says Israel is looking for a framework to extend peace talks with the Palestinians beyond the April deadline.

Yaalon said Tuesday it is clear there are big gaps with the Palestinians that are not new; but, he said it is definitely in Israel's interest to continue the talks and stabilize relations.

The State Department says extending the nine-month deadline set last July is an option; but, it says the focus remains on getting a framework agreement before the end of April. Officials say both Israeli and Palestinian leaders remain engaged and committed.

Before leaving Jerusalem Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry said he is making progress towards peace. He said a framework would be a "significant breakthrough," but would not meet his goal of a comprehensive deal by April.

Israelis and Palestinians are accusing each other of sabotaging peace efforts. Israel says the Palestinians hail terrorists just freed from prison as heroes and have not recognized a Jewish state. Palestinians say Israel continues to build Jewish settlements in lands that would be part of a future state.