Kerry to push for solutions as Israeli-Palestinian peace talks intensify

WASHINGTON Tue Dec 31, 2013 3:48pm EST

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a joint news conference with Philippines' Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila December 17, 2013. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a joint news conference with Philippines' Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila December 17, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hopes to narrow differences between Israelis and Palestinians in peace talks this week that are intended to guide the sides toward a deal in April, a senior State Department official said on Tuesday.

Kerry departs for the region on Wednesday in his first trip after a Christmas break. Israel and Palestinians resumed peace talks in July after a three-year break aimed at producing a peace agreement within nine months to end their decades-old conflict.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Kerry did not expect a breakthrough during his visit but is pushing for the sides to agree on a framework of core principles, such as security, the future of Jerusalem and fate of refugees, as soon as possible.

Such a step would also demonstrate to both Israelis and Palestinians that progress is being made. Israel fulfilled part of the U.S.- brokered package for talks by releasing 26 Palestinian prisoners on Tuesday, the third of four groups to go free. {ID:nL6NOK925K]

"The framework is a basis upon which one could negotiate a final peace treaty because the outlines or the guidelines for what the final deal would look like would be agreed up, and then you would work intensively to fill out the details," the official said.

The official said the framework would act as a guideline for reaching a full peace treaty between the Israelis and Palestinians in April, in which Israel would exist peacefully alongside a new Palestinian state.

"We want to have a detailed consultation with them about these ideas that have been generated as a result of the negotiations between the parties themselves, and see whether they can serve as gap bridges which could lead to this agreement on the framework for permanent status negotiations," the official added.

The official dismissed earlier comments by U.S. officials that an agreement in April would lead to a year of further talks aimed at a full-blown peace treaty. "It is a two-stage process in our minds, agreement on a framework for negotiations and then a permanent status agreement or a peace treaty" by April, the official said

After 20 rounds of talks Kerry wants to intensify talks further.

"We have established very well where the gaps are, but also generated some ideas that could help to serve as ways of bridging those gaps. The secretary's trip this time is to start to test those ideas with the two leaders," the official said.

The official said Kerry "has a real sense of urgency, a real sense of need to strike while the iron is hot. We consider the iron to be hot."

"We're going to work assiduously to try to reach this framework agreement as soon as possible," the official added.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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Comments (10)
PaulBradley wrote:
How is Mr. Kerry going to make the Zionist Likud party to change its Charter that addresses, among other things, issues that are widely considered as insults to Palestinians and/or obstacles to any efforts to reach peace agreement as a whole:

The 1999 Likud charter emphasizes the right of settlement.
“The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting.”
Similarly, they claim the Jordan River as the permanent eastern border to Israel and it also claims Jerusalem as belonging to Israel.
The ‘Peace & Security’ chapter of the 1999 Likud Party platform rejects a Palestinian state.
“The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river. The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state. Thus, for example, in matters of foreign affairs, security, immigration and ecology, their activity shall be limited in accordance with imperatives of Israel’s existence, security and national needs.

Dec 31, 2013 4:16pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Harry079 wrote:
The Arabs screwed up when they did not accept the 1947 UN Partition Plan which if they had they would have more territory than they will ever get now.

Dec 31, 2013 5:06pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Bighammerman wrote:
Kerry will only make things worse. He should resign.

Dec 31, 2013 6:51pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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