News / Middle East

Kerry: Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks Back On

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a press conference at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan, July 19, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a press conference at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan, July 19, 2013.
VOA News
Israel and the Palestinians appear headed back to negotiations in the hopes of settling long-standing differences.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made the announcement in Amman, Jordan Friday, after returning from a trip to Ramallah and a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

 "We have reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming direct, final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis," he said. "This is a significant and welcome step forward."  

Kerry said some details are still being worked out but that if all goes well, Palestinians and Israeli officials will travel to Washington for initial talks within the next week or two.

VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns was with Kerry in Amman.

“He [Kerry] has kept this entire process very quiet and again said that candid, private conversations are the very best way to give these negotiations a chance,” Stearns said.

Kerry also praised both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Abbas for making some difficult choices.

"The representatives of two proud peoples today have decided that the difficult road ahead is worth traveling," he said.

This is the sixth trip Kerry has made to the Middle East since becoming secretary of state earlier this year.  He was originally scheduled to have flown back to the U.S. already.  He extended his stay after sensing an agreement to restart talks was within reach.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in 2010.

The White House says President Barack Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday to ask him to work with Kerry to "resume negotiations with the Palestinians as soon as possible."

Earlier this week, in Jordan, Kerry met with  representatives of Arab states that support a comprehensive peace plan.  He said many of the Arab League ministers told him "the core issue of instability in this region and in many other parts of the world is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict."

Kerry has been urging both Israel and the Palestinians to be cautious and to avoid any actions or statements that might undermine their progress.

VOA's Scott Stearns says Kerry also intends to keep tight control of the proceedings.

“He [Kerry] said that any speculation that anyone would have before that process is finalized would be pure conjecture and not facts," he said.  "He said that both sides in this agreement have agreed that he, Secretary Kerry, will be the only one to speak about this until the agreement is made.”

But Kerry said Friday he remains optimistic.

"This is not up to chance.  It's up to the Israeli people and the Palestinian people and no one else," he said. "So knowing that the road ahead will be difficult, and the challenges that the parties face will be daunting, we will call on everybody to act in the best of faith and push forward."

Earlier this week,  Kerry said the proposed plan aims to show both sides the benefits of peace, and, in particular, the impact some proposals could have on the Palestinian economy.  He said programs being considered as part of the plan could reduce unemployment in the Palestinian territory from 21 percent to 8 percent over the next three years while also doubling the GDP [Gross Domestic Product].

VOA's Scott Stearns says, ultimately, for the negotiations to succeed, the sides will have to answer a familiar question.

“The basis of these talks all along has been the 2002 Arab League Peace Initiative, which was modified earlier this year to allow for land swaps to account for Israeli settlements post-1967," he said. "So the detail then would be - is Israel going to be able to keep all of its settlements once that final map is drawn and what will Israel then give up in those land swaps to account for the post-1967 settlements that it will keep.”

You May Like

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs