TEL AVIV, ISRAEL
— U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Israel Wednesday preparing for separate talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Kerry opened this visit meeting with the daughter and granddaughter of the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, a day after the 18th anniversary of his assassination by an Israeli extremist here in Tel Aviv.
Recalling the song of peace that Prime Minster Rabin and President Shimon Peres sang moments before that violence, Kerry said it is time that Israelis and Palestinians come together behind a two-state solution to their decades-long crisis.
"We believe this is something that is possible, that it is good for all, and that it can be achieved," said Kerry.
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But three months into what is scheduled to be nine months of peace talks, there has been little obvious progress toward a peaceful settlement. Israel has freed some Palestinian prisoners, which U.S. officials say is an encouraging step forward. Israel is also moving ahead with more settlements, however, which U.S. officials say "do not create a positive environment for negotiations."
In separate talks Wednesday with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas, Kerry said he will pursue the dream of peace for which Rabin gave his life.
"I come here without any illusions about the difficulties. But I come here determined to work with leaders, with the prime minister, with the president of the Palestinian Authority to try to find a way forward," said Kerry.
Kerry will also speak Wednesday at a microfinance event in the Palestinian town of Bethlehem. He has made economic development in Palestinian areas a central part of this peace process, as he says that will help create jobs and investment opportunities for both Israelis and Palestinians.