News / Middle East

Kerry Pushes for Gaza Truce

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat arrive at a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, July 23, 2014.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat arrive at a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, July 23, 2014.

 U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is having separate talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on ending violence in the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 600 people.  

With Israeli and Hamas forces continuing to fight in Gaza,  Kerry says there has been "some progress in moving towards" a cease-fire during the past 24 hours, but did not specify the nature of that progress.

More than two weeks into a battle that shows no signs of easing, Kerry met again with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who says they agree a cease-fire alone is not enough.

"Stop fighting.  Start talking," Ban urged. "And take on the root causes of the conflict so we are not back to the same situation in another six months or a year.  We must address these underlying issues including mutual recognition, occupation, despair, and denial of dignity."

The secretary was up much of the night in telephone diplomacy with Palestinian President Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and the foreign ministers of Qatar, Turkey, France, and Egypt.

He came to Israel and Ramallah to meet face-to-face with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas to press an Egyptian cease-fire plan that Hamas rejected last week because it offers no guaranteed relief from the Israeli and Egyptian blockade of Gaza.

As the leader of a Fatah/Hamas reconciliation government, Abbas appears to have little influence over Hamas fighters firing rockets into Israel, despite positioning his Fatah faction as standing united against Israel.

American University professor Guy Ziv believes Palestinian divisions will only grow wider.

"The differences between Hamas and Fatah are deep.  The mistrust is significant.  And I do not expect the reconciliation to last," Ziv said.

Following their talks in Ramallah, Secretary Kerry said the Palestinian leader is committed to non-violence and creating a sustainable way forward for everyone.

"I am very grateful to President Abbas for his leadership, for his deep engagement in the effort to try to find a cease-fire.  He has traveled tirelessly," Kerry said.  "He has been working with all of the interested groups and parties and encouraging people to do the responsible thing, which is to come to the table, not only have a cease-fire, but then negotiate the immediate issues and the underlying issues."

Asked about a possible "demilitarization" of Gaza as part of a negotiated settlement, Kerry said "all of the issues of Gaza will be on the table."

WATCH: Related video by VOA's Zlatica Hoke

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Israel's deadly shelling of Gaza has entered a third week, with the death toll on the Palestinian side rising past 600, compared to about 30 in Israel. Zlatica Hoke has more in this report from Washington.

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by: maithe from: Paris, France
July 23, 2014 4:17 PM
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon urged : 'Stop fighting. Start talking '
Hard to believe ! So ...'childish' !!
Mr Moon try talking to the Hamas.... Go to Gaza and not Ramallah. Don't tell the others, do it yourself .


by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 23, 2014 2:56 PM
Hamas seems to have carved itself out as another government, but tends to use Abbas’ PLO to gain international recognition. Yeah, Kerry and Moon want to evolve a progress.. “so we are not back to the same situation in another six months or a year”, but seems they are not fashioning something that can be lasting. “At least two years repletion is ok”, seems to be the idea. And how can they mean differently if they are accepting a union forming a unity government whose only common ground is “standing united against Israel”.

Meanwhile they claim to be talking about issues to bring “peace” in a two states solution. Do you see why it won’t ever work? ‘All options are on the table’ should include Israel refusing Hamas operating from inside it. It is very dangerous if Israel should agree peace with the Palestinians while Hamas is perched on its west coast like a bird of prey ready to strike. If there ever gets to the point of settlement and Hamas obtains autonomy whereby Israel will no longer check what goes in there, that will only mean welcome to another holocaust. God forbid!


by: meanbill from: USA
July 23, 2014 8:26 AM
The US is desperately trying to get a ceasefire, (without Israel giving any concessions), and get the Gaza Palestinians to return to the (status quo) of the Israel apartheid occupation that they have been living under since the Israeli's ignored the 2012 Israel/Hamas ceasefire agreement.... A ceasefire without a return to a UN peacekeeper enforced (2012 Israel/ Palestinian ceasefire agreement) is unacceptable, (and all the Palestinians dying now, would have died for nothing), and the Gaza Palestinians will keep fighting on, until the last rocket, RPG, or bullet is fired, (or until the Israeli's kill them).....

PEACE can only happen if the Israeli's return to a UN peacekeeper enforced (2012 Israel/Palestinian ceasefire agreement), and real negotiations to end the apartheid occupation of the Palestinian territories...... because the Israeli's don't want to give up the Palestinian territories that they have built Israeli homes and walls on, and still keep on expanding on the Palestinian occupied lands..... (Israel will use every excuse in the world, to keep the Palestinian occupied lands they seized and built homes on)..

In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 23, 2014 3:11 PM
Except that justice these days means something different from the truth, but if truth be told, Meanbill will find out who is occupying whose territory. So-called occupied land/territory belongs to Israel - history will prove it. But why can't people who traveled from Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and the surrounding cities return to their countries and end this occupation saga?


by: Matthew from: St Petersburg
July 23, 2014 8:16 AM
The killing will never end as long as the strong fail to stand with the innocent! Honor the IHL.


by: Kafantaris from: Warren, Ohio
July 23, 2014 8:11 AM
"Gaza officials said that so far in the 16-day conflict, 475 houses had been totally destroyed by Israeli fire and 2,644 partially damaged. Some 46 schools, 56 mosques and seven hospitals had also suffered varying degrees of destruction." -- Reuters (7-23-14)

In Response

by: ali baba from: new york
July 23, 2014 10:31 AM
Israel want to revenge for the three killed teens. the story of rocket is a joke and absurd.it is very rare that this rocket hit a target. The message that Israel want to deliver(Hamas we got back to you even many are suffering .this not the case of Israel


by: Randall Horton from: Oceanside CA
July 23, 2014 7:59 AM
No one was asking for a cease-fire during the Iraq or Afghan invasions.

In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 23, 2014 3:04 PM
No one is asking for a cease fire here either. it's all about talking. Israel has only proved ineffective to do what is expected of it in swift military precision that would have found what it wanted in Gaza. From the look of it, it's Israel that's even insinuating the cease fire - are they tired out already - while the Palestinians are busy politicking with attracting cheap popularity, pity and sympathy at the UN and elsewhere.

In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
July 23, 2014 9:48 AM
Hey Randall, the Russians and China asked for a ceasefire on the US invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan...... (but), the US was searching for those Saddam (weapons of mass destruction), that Iraq supposedly had.... (and), the US was searching for the (twin tower destroyer), Al-Qaeda leader Bin Laden, supposedly hiding in the mountains of Bora Bora Afghanistan.


by: Fred from: Colorado Springs
July 23, 2014 7:52 AM
You can all rest easy now, for the great blowhard John Kerry is on the scene.

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