AMMAN — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are both being tested politically in pursuit of a two-state peace solution. Kerry is in the region for talks with both men, his fifth visit in as many months.
Continuing his shuttle diplomacy, Kerry says Netanyahu and Abbas share "a serious commitment of purpose" in the face of considerable political challenges to Mideast peace.
"The politics of both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas have both been tested, as they always are in this part of the world," said Kerry.
Kerry is making getting Israelis and Palestinians back to talks a priority. It is the fifth time in as many months that he has visited the region.
Since Kerry began the diplomatic push, more conservative members of Netanyahu's ruling coalition have pronounced the two-state solution dead. Abbas is under pressure to show results for his non-violent approach, having accepted his newly-appointed prime minister's resignation after just three weeks in office.
But Kerry said both men are skilled political veterans who believe the peace process "is more important to their countries than some of their current political challenges may make it seem."
"President Abbas has been at this a long time. He has been motivated by the desire to try to create his country, to give the Palestinians their homeland, to define it, and to be able to meet the needs of his people," Kerry said.
As Israel's second-longest serving prime minister, Netanyahu knows what is at stake, Kerry said.
"He understands how volatile the region is, what the complications and threats are to Israel, the downsides of failure. And I think he understands that this is a serious moment," the secretary said.
Kerry said the Obama administration is determined to keep working toward Mideast peace, but it is up to Abbas and Netanyahu to make the hard choices.
"In the end, they will have to make key decisions about whether or whether not they're prepared to proceed forward based on the understandings that we hope we could reach," he said.
After meeting with Netanyahu in Jerusalem Thursday, Kerry meets here in Jordan with Abbas Friday.