U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced Wednesday that he will return to the Middle East this month in hopes of reviving the dormant Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Kerry said he plans to talk separately with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Kerry spoke from Rome prior to a meeting there with Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, whose Cabinet portfolio includes responsibility for peace talks.
Peace negotiations have been been stalled since late 2008. Palestinian officials say they will not negotiate until Israel stops building settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Israelis want talks with no preconditions.
The announcement comes as tensions in the region were raised Wednesday after Israeli police Wednesday detained the top Muslim cleric in the Holy Land following violent protests at a disputed holy site in Jerusalem.
Mohammed Hussein, the mufti of Jerusalem, was taken in for questioning over an incident on Tuesday in which Muslim worshippers threw stones and chairs at tourists near the Al Aqsa Mosque.
The hilltop where the mosque sits is considered holy by Muslims and Jews.
Palestinian and Jordanian officials condemned the detention.