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Kerry Cites Some Progress in Mideast Talks

  • Scott Bobb

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has briefed leaders in Jordan and Saudi Arabia on his latest efforts to boost the Israeli - Palestinian peace talks. Kerry said Sunday, before leaving Israel, that some progress has been made but much work still needs to be done.

Secretary of State Kerry arrived in Jordan following four days of intensive talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Before leaving Jerusalem, he told reporters that his conversations had been intensive and productive.

"We are not there yet but we are making progress, and we are beginning to flesh out the toughest hurdles yet to be the overcome," he said.

Kerry met three times with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. He told reporters afterwards the parties were discussing a framework to guide negotiations on a final settlement.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said this should include all the core issues.

“No one benefits more from the success of Secretary Kerry's efforts than the Palestinians. And no one stands to lose more of [from] failure than Palestinians," he said.

Kerry also met three times with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who praised Kerry’s efforts, but said at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting that serious concerns remain.

He said the Palestinians continued to resist recognition of the Jewish state, "our right to be here." The Israeli leader said there were many other issues, but that was a fundamental problem.

An analyst at the U.S. Institute for Peace (Center for Conflict Management), Neil Kritz, said Kerry’s proposed framework was aimed at building trust and confidence on both sides.

“That hopefully is one of the pieces that can push them to make the decisions, commit to certain measures that they are not willing to or able to do at their own initiative,” said Kritz.

Aaron David Miller of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars said no one wanted to be blamed for the failure of the talks, but this did not ensure that they would succeed.

“It is all about whether or not this satisfies the individual and national interests of these leaders, not John Kerry’s personality. He can be the facilitator or the bridge but in the end this will rise and fall, if it is meaningful, on the basis of whether or not Abbas and Netanyahu believe that it is in their own interests and they can sell it. And that is going to be driven largely by the substance,” he said.

Kerry said he plans to brief the Arab League on the talks and is to return soon for more discussions.

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