US Secretary of State John Kerry said he wants to allow the Israeli and Palestinian leadership to voice their concerns about a framework agreement he hopes to reach by an April deadline for continued peace talks.
Allowing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas slight leeway in addressing the parameters could be the only way to continue talks, despite criticism from negotiators from both sides against such flexibility, Kerry said in an interview published Saturday with Washington Post columnist David Ignatius.
According to the top US diplomat, provisos from Netanyahu and Abbas were “the only way for them to politically be able to keep the negotiations moving. . . . For them as leaders to be able to embrace an endgame, they need to have the right to be able to have some objection.”
Turning to Abbas's suggestion that NATO troops remain in a future Palestinian state in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in order to ensure Israeli's security, Kerry noted Netanyahu's objection to the idea and said the possibility of the presence of a third-part buffer force was for the sides to resolve.
Kerry highlighted that a framework accord, addressing issues for a final-status peace deal, was critical for fostering the idea that peace is achievable.
Yet, he said it was understood by all sides that any transition to a two-state solution would be a length process.
Addressing criticism over his remarks made last week in Munich about possible boycotts of Israel if the talks break down, Kerry stressed that he was a staunch supporter of Israel and said his comments had been "taken out of context".
“There are those who do not want a two-state solution, who don’t believe in it," he told Ignatius.
Late on Friday, the US welcomed remarks made by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman earlier in the day defending Kerry and his efforts for peace in the region in light of criticism from Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.
Liberman called Kerry a "true friend of Israel," and warned against spoiling relations with allies.
"It certainly is a powerful statement and a powerful message given his history and his background on these issues and where his view was," said US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki
"We certainly welcomed his remarks and his sentiment and the importance of the peace process, and it’s a reflection of, of course, the belief of many people in Israel that a two-state solution is the right outcome at the end of this process," she added.
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