World News

Kerry Cancels Abbas Meeting in Ramallah

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has cancelled plans to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday.

Kerry cancelled his planned trip after Mr. Abbas said Palestinians are immediately resuming their bid to win further United Nations recognition and that he had signed a request to join 15 U.N. agencies and conventions.

There was no immediate comment from Israel, but officials there reissued tenders for more than 700 settler homes in East Jerusalem on Tuesday.

The moves by both sides looked set to derail U.S.-negotiated peace talks.

But Kerry, speaking in Brussels, said it is "completely premature" to write off the Israeli-Palestinian peace process now. He said both parties have indicated they want to move forward with negotiations.



Earlier, officials close to the discussions said an agreement had been emerging that would extend negotiations through 2015 in exchange for the release of a convicted American spying for Israel.

The deal would also include the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and a partial freeze on construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hammered out details of the plan Tuesday, during their second set of talks in as many days.

Under the proposed deal, Jonathan Pollard, a civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy, would be released from prison before the Jewish holiday of Passover, which begins in mid-April.

A Jewish American who was granted Israeli citizenship while he was in prison in 1995, Pollard gave thousands of classified documents to his Israeli handlers. He was arrested in 1985 after unsuccessfully seeking refuge at the Israeli embassy in Washington.

Pollard pleaded guilty to leaking classified documents to Israel and received a life sentence. U.S. President Barack Obama and his predecessors have previously refused to release him, despite pleas from Israeli leaders.

The White House said Tuesday that Mr. Obama has not yet decided to set Pollard free.

In exchange for his release, Israel would free a fourth group of long-serving Palestinian prisoners, including 14 Arab Israelis whose release is deeply controversial in Israel, as well as 400 other Palestinians who have not been convicted of killing Israelis.

Israel would also agree to "adopt a policy of restraint" in building West Bank settlements. Sources say the limited freeze would not include East Jerusalem, private construction or the building of public institutions.

Palestinian leaders were cool to the emerging proposal, saying it fell far short of their demands for a complete halt to settlement construction and freedom for 1,000 prisoners of their choosing.

The prisoner releases are part of the pact that brought Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table for a nine-month period beginning last July.

The parties involved in the peace effort have not publicly discussed the details of the negotiations, but there has been little visible progress on narrowing gaps on major issues. These include the status of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees, borders and security.

###

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs