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Kerry Continues Mideast Peace Effort

  • VOA News

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, second from left, meets with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, at right, Jerusalem, June 29, 2013.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, second from left, meets with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, at right, Jerusalem, June 29, 2013.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is continuing his Middle East peace mission, meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on reviving their stalled negotiations.

Kerry has met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas twice in Jordan and a third meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem Saturday extended into early Sunday.

A U.S. State Department official said Kerry will travel to Ramallah Sunday to meet again with Abbas.

Further talks could delay the secretary's trip to Brunei, where he is expected to attend a Southeast Asia security conference on Monday and Tuesday.

Despite the flurry of talks, U.S., Israeli and Palestinian officials have all declined to disclose details.

Despite the renewed push for talks, Kerry faces significant obstacles.

Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, on Friday urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to reject negotiations. Hamas leader Ismail Haniya warned Abbas "not to fall yet again into the trap of talks."

Earlier in the week, Israel announced plans to build dozens of new housing units in an East Jerusalem settlement, triggering anger from some Palestinian officials.

No deadline for talks
Kerry says he is not putting a deadline on a return to peace talks but warns any delay "allows a vacuum to be filled by people who don't want things to happen."

Following his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Kerry met with Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Peres praised Kerry's efforts.

"All of us admire your investment in creating really the right environment to open the peace," he said. "If I can leak one thing, I believe you already created this environment. I know it's still difficult, there are many problems, but as far I am concerned I can see how ...there is a clear majority for the peace process, for the two state solution, and a great expectation that you will do it and that you can do it."
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