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Kerry in Ramallah for More Peace Negotiations

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is continuing talks with Israeli and Palestinian Authority leaders in hopes they can soon agree on a framework peace deal.

Kerry met Friday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Several hundred protesters marched through the streets there ahead of the U.S. diplomat's visit to denounce the peace talks as a delay tactic.

Earlier Friday, Kerry met with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. He said a framework agreement would narrow differences between Israeli and Palestinian leaders and provide guidelines for permanent negotiations.



"It would address all of the core issues. It would create the fixed, defined parameters by which the parties would then know where they are going and what the end result can be. It would address all of the core issues that we have been addressing since day one, including borders, security, refugees, Jerusalem, mutual recognition and the end of conflict and of all claims."



The Secretary of State said a framework deal would be a "significant breakthrough," though it would be less ambitious than his initial goal of reaching a comprehensive peace agreement by April.



His visit - the 10th since March - comes as the Israelis and Palestinians accuse each other of sabotaging efforts to reach a two-state solution to their decades-old conflict.

Kerry met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday. Mr. Netanyahu questioned whether Palestinians are "committed to peace," accusing them of failing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and "embracing terrorists as heroes."

He was referring to the strong welcome that Palestinian prisoners received in the West Bank this week after being released from Israeli prisons as part of the peace process.

Mr. Abbas has complained about ongoing Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, saying Israel is trying to take land that would be part of a future Palestinian state.

Palestinians have threatened to walk out of the peace talks if Israel does not stop the settlement construction, which the U.S. has also criticized as illegitimate and unhelpful.

There is also disagreement over U.S. proposals for security arrangements in the Jordan Valley, where the West Bank borders Jordan.

Israel is looking to keep troops there, saying this is essential for security reasons. Palestinians say this would violate the sovereignty of their future state.

Other key issues to be resolved include the remaining borders between the two states, the future of Jerusalem, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

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