Kerry to return to Mideast next week in further peace push: sources

JERUSALEM Fri Jun 7, 2013 7:57am EDT

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the media about Syria at the State Department in Washington May 31, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the media about Syria at the State Department in Washington May 31, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is set to return to Israel and the Palestinian territories next week for his fifth visit to the region in barely two months to extend his push for a revival of peace talks, sources on both side said.

A senior American official indicated in March that Washington would try to breathe new life into the peace effort for two months and would move on if it proved fruitless.

Kerry said earlier this week that time was running out to resume negotiations, which broke down in 2010 over the barbed issue of continued Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israeli and Palestinian sources said they expected to see Kerry on June 11-12, adding that exact details of the trip had not yet been worked out and the timing could still change.

Both sides have expressed pessimism in private over the chances of any resumption of negotiations, with Israelis and Palestinians primed to blame each other for any failure.

Speaking in Washington on June 3, Kerry warned that this might be the last chance to secure the so-called "two state solution", with independent Palestinian and Israeli states living side-by-side in harmony.

"The status quo is simply not sustainable," he said. "We will find ourselves in a negative spiral of responses and counter-responses that could literally slam the door on a two-state solution."

The Palestinians say there must be a settlement freeze on the land they want for a future state, saying continued building would make a mockery of any negotiations. Israel says there should be no preconditions to talks.

Looking to break the deadlock, officials say Kerry is seeking alternative goodwill gestures to pave the way for talks.

Amongst these are the possible release of some 120 Palestinian prisoners who have been held in Israeli jails since before 1993, the year the two sides signed the Oslo Accords - a interim deal intended to lead to an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip within five years.

However, it was not clear if Israel was prepared to free them all, and that even if it did, whether this would be enough to persuade Abbas to return to negotiations.

(Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta in Ramallah; writing by Crispian Balmer; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Comments (5)
AZreb wrote:
Kerry has quietly given Egypt $3.1 BILLION in military aid – not HUMANITARIAN aid, but military. Must be nice to have billions of our tax dollars to give away – plus keeping our MIC in business,

Jun 07, 2013 9:05am EDT  --  Report as abuse
boreal wrote:
Breathing life into the decades old lifeless peace talks has as much chance of success as breathing life into the cadaver of a dead horse. Peace talks, and the promise of more talks are a three ring circus, waste of effort, try something new.

Jun 07, 2013 10:11am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Jossef wrote:
Kerry, give it a rest. Abbas just told the world there
will be no resumption of peace negotiations until Israel
agrees 1)that the capital of a Palestinian state should
be in Jerusalem and 2) the territory of a Palestinian
state should include all land captured by Israel in
a defensive war against Jordan. It is clear that Abbas
think he can get more via the UN and ICC and using
the international media to portray Israel as not
interested in peace, than from face-to-face negotiations.
Until he finds out otherwise, there is no point in
pleading with him to negotiate. It is time to tell
Abbas to legitimize his leadership by standing up for election
which are long overdue.

Jun 07, 2013 10:57am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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