After three days of whirlwind meetings with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, US Secretary of State John Kerry promises that "real progress" has been made between the two sides.
Though officials on both sides have expressed reservations about the possibility of peace talks, Kerry expressed his belief that all sides involved are sincerely committed to moving forward.
"They (Netanyahu and Abbas) have spent hours working through language, working through ideas, and the effort that they and their teams have put into this convinces me of their interest in being successful," Kerry said in a press release.
For all of his optimism, Kerry noted that patience is crucial and refused to be drawn into disclosing specific details of plans that had been discussed during his meetings.
"We have all agreed that the best way to serve this effort is not to be floating ideas or possibilities out there for everybody to tear apart and evaluate and analyze," Kerry said.
Kerry's remarks came in stark contrast to a recent statement from top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat who blamed Israel for the lack of progress, Army Radio reported.
"Israel are the ones responsible for the failure of recent negotiation bids," Erekat said. "The Israeli government must decide whether it wants peace, or if it prefers to continue to blame the Palestinians again and again."
Netanyahu meanwhile suggested Israel is ready to come to the table today without preconditions.
“Israel is willing to enter negotiations without delay, and without preconditions,” he said, revealing little about the substance of the Kerry talks. “We are not piling up any obstacle to the renewal of permanent talks and a peace agreement between us and the Palestinians,” he said.
Kerry noted in the press conference that concessions must come from both sides saying, "there are any number of obstacles, but we're working through them."
When asked about a time-frame for the resumption of talks, Kerry said, "we're not going to get stuck with artificial deadlines. That's a big mistake."
Some of Kerry's staff will remain behind to continue to work towards bringing the two sides together and Kerry himself has promised to return to the region soon as requested by both Netanyahu and Abbas.
HERB KEINON and KHALED ABU TOAMEH contributed to this report.
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