U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is pressing efforts for peace between Israel and the Palestinians in new talks with both sides.
Kerry arrived in Israel late Tuesday seeking to reassure Israel ahead of a series of separate meetings Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
"I can promise Israelis that America will stand by the side of Israel every step of the way. We believe this is something that is possible, that it is good for all and that it can be achieved," said Kerry.
Kerry spoke in Tel Aviv at the memorial to the late Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who had pushed for peace with the Palestinians before he was assassinated by a Jewish extremist 18 years ago.
Although negotiators from both sides have been meeting periodically, many obstacles remain.
Israel last week released 26 Palestinian militants serving lengthy prison terms as part of the deal that revived the peace talks three months ago. It is to release 52 more next year.
Palestinians rejoiced at the prisoner release, but were angered when Israel announced more construction in Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Spokesman Ahmad Assaf of the Palestinian Fatah movement called the construction a violation of Palestinian rights and international agreements.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said prior to Kerry's visit that he remains committed to the peace talks but that, "For peace to happen between us and our Palestinian neighbors, they must acknowledge the right of the Jewish people to have their own state in its homeland."
Kerry has pushed a timetable for the talks to conclude in six months.
Following talks in Israel and the West Bank, Kerry is due to visit Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria and Morocco.