News / Middle East

Kerry Cancels Meeting with Abbas Over Recognition Spat

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas talks during a leadership meeting in Ramallah, April 1, 2014
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas talks during a leadership meeting in Ramallah, April 1, 2014
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he is resuming a bid to win more United Nations recognition, breaking an agreement that already is threatened by Israel's refusal to release more Palestinian prisoners. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has cancelled plans to meet with Abbas on Wednesday.

President Abbas says Palestinians are immediately restarting efforts to join 15 United Nations agencies, in a campaign that threatens U.S.-led peace talks on a two-state solution. In a televised speech from his headquarters in Ramallah,  Abbas said he was compelled to take action because Israel has again refused to release more prisoners.

Abbas says Palestinians have been promised nine times that the fourth batch of prisoners would be released. He says this afternoon was the latest promise that the Israeli government would be convening to approve that. And that did not happen.

When U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry launched this peace process eight months ago, Palestinians promised to suspend United Nations applications for greater recognition in exchange for Israel agreeing to release 104 Palestinian prisoners.

The last group of prisoners was due to be set free by the end of March. But the Israeli Cabinet has repeatedly failed to approve their release.

The Palestinian move brought no immediate comment from Israel, where officials Tuesday reissued tenders for more than 700 settler homes in East Jerusalem.

Speaking at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, Kerry said it is "completely premature to draw any kind of judgment, certainly any final judgment" about the day's events and where things stand.

"President Abbas has given his word to me that he will keep his agreement and that he intends to negotiate through the end of April," said Kerry.

In the last week, Kerry has twice changed his schedule to return to the region, and was planning to do so again Wednesday. But he cancelled his meeting with Abbas following the Palestinian decision to go back to the U.N.

"This is a moment to be really clear-eyed and sober about this process. It is difficult. It is emotional. It requires huge decisions, some of them with great political difficulty, all of which need to come together simultaneously," said Kerry.

No issue has more consumed this secretary of state than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But he says it is ultimately up to the leaders themselves to make it work.

"Facilitation is only as good as the willingness of leaders to actually make decisions when they're put in front of them. And we're going to continue to do our work. We're going to continue because this matters," he said.

The Obama administration's latest approach includes offering to release a convicted Israeli spy in exchange for Israeli concessions to Palestinians, including a freeze on Israeli settlements in disputed territories and the release of additional Palestinian prisoners.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid