Kerry urges Abbas to make 'tough decisions' on peace

WASHINGTON Sun Mar 16, 2014 9:55pm EDT

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a press conference in London March 14, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a press conference in London March 14, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan Smialowski/Pool

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday "to make the tough decisions that will be necessary" before an April 29 deadline for a peace deal with Israel, a U.S. official said.

President Barack Obama meets Abbas on Monday, nearly two weeks after the U.S. leader sat down with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said he was prepared to make a "historic peace" with the Palestinians but offered no concessions in public.

Kerry brought Israel and the Palestinians back into negotiations on July 29 after a three-year gap, and said at the time that "our objective will be to achieve a final status agreement over the course of the next nine months."

As the April 29 deadline approaches, U.S. officials have scaled back their ambitions, saying they are now trying to forge a "framework for negotiations" by then. Kerry himself suggested on February 26 a full peace deal could take a further nine months.

The two sides do not appear to have made much visible progress on narrowing their gaps on the major issues in the more than six-decade dispute, which include borders, security, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem.

"The secretary thanked President Abbas for his steadfast leadership and partnership over the past few months and encouraged him to make the tough decisions that will be necessary in the weeks ahead," a senior State Department official said of their three-hour meeting on Sunday.

"He also reiterated that we are at a pivotal time in the negotiations and while these issues have decades of history behind them, neither party should let tough political decisions at this stage stand in the way of a lasting peace," the official added, describing Sunday's talks as "frank and productive."

(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Comments (2)
rgbviews wrote:
I suggest that the “tough decisions” are more for the US to make.

Mr. Kerry, last Friday you spoke to the press on the subject of the Crimea.. In your discourse you repeatedly affirmed US foreign policy in support of international law, in support of human rights, and in suppport of multilateral resolution of issues thru the UN. You also stated US foreign policy will confront illegal annexation.

The US position and your proposed “framework” must be based on these same precepts. Your (US) “tough decision” is whether to stand up for these principles or bow to AIPAC pressure. US credibility is on the line.

The Palestinians rest comfortably on the moral and legal high round when it comes to their land and rights to their natural resources. Their only “tough decision” relates to the quantitative aspect of their right of return.

Mar 17, 2014 2:13am EDT  --  Report as abuse
rgbviews wrote:
Mr. Kerry, you managed to talk the Palestinians into the 9 months of negotiations. What did they get in return? Thousands of new illegal Israeli settlements on their land.

You will be extremely lucky to talk the Palestinians into yet another delay of justice. Your only hope is that you can read the riot act to Netanyahu and get the Israelis to agree to a time-limited procedural “framework” that is unequivocally rooted in international law and fully recognizes the rights previously granted to the Palestinians.

Mar 17, 2014 12:47pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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