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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid