News / Middle East

Peres: Kerry Making Progress on Resuming Mideast Talks

Israeli President: Kerry Making Progress on Resuming Mideast Peace Talksi
July 18, 2013 6:15 PM
Israeli President Shimon Peres says U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is in Jordan, is making "real progress" on resuming Israeli-Palestinian peace talks which broke down in 2010. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the Jordanian capital.
Israeli President Shimon Peres says U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is in Jordan, is making "real progress" on resuming Israeli-Palestinian peace talks which broke down in 2010.
As Palestinian leaders met in the West Bank to discuss Kerry's push to restart talks on a two-state solution,  Israeli President Shimon Peres, speaking in Jerusalem, said U.S. efforts are moving things forward.
"And this day, tomorrow, another day, are very crucial. It's touch and go, and I believe that the supreme efforts that [the] secretary made bear some fruits on both sides," he said. 
Kerry's plan is based on a 2002 Arab League peace initiative that includes land swaps so Israel can keep some Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
It's a plan Kerry says Israel should carefully consider.

"Israel needs to look hard at this initiative, which promises Israel peace with 22 Arab nations and 35 Muslim nations - a total of 57 nations that are standing and waiting for the possibility of making peace with Israel," he said. 
Though U.S. officials say there are no current plans to announce a return to talks, Kerry said he and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh are making progress. 
"When this process started, several months ago, there were very wide gaps, very significant gaps between the two sides," he said. "And I think Nasser would agree with me that through hard and deliberate, patient work, most importantly through quiet work, we have been able to narrow those gaps very significantly. And so we continue to get closer, and I continue to remain hopeful that the sides will soon be able to come to sit at the same table." 
Political unrest in Egypt and war in Syria make this the moment to push for Mideast peace, says former U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer.
"The anger on the Arab street for the failure of the United states and the parties themselves to resolve the conflict has played into the backdrop of the Arab uprisings," he said. 
Kurtzer says Washington is focusing on a conflict where it has a better chance of making a difference.
"The influence of the United States right now in the so-called Arab Spring or the changes underway in the Arab world is relatively limited whereas in the Arab-Israeli conflict we still have the ability to play the role of third party," he said. 
Arab League support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gives him the backing to get back to talks - an opportunity Israel should not pass up, says American University professor Akbar Ahmed.
"Abbas is a tried and tested figure, a figure that the Israelis can do business with. And therefore, again, they need to do business fairly quickly within this time frame," he said. 
Secretary Kerry continues to work with Jordan's foreign minister to make the most of what they believe is an opportunity for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

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