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Kerry: Israel, Palestinians progressing toward framework peace deal
By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
01/04/2014
US secretary of state meets for 3 hours with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah; says will visit Saudi Arabia on Sunday to discuss Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations.
 
RAMALLAH, West Bank - Israel and the Palestinians are making progress towards reaching a framework peace agreement but they are not there yet, US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters on Saturday.

Kerry was speaking after about three hours of talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, the Palestinian seat of government in the West Bank.

"I am confident that the talks we have had in the last two days have already fleshed out and even resolved certain kinds of issues and presented new opportunities for others," he said.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat urged Israel to stop building Jewish settlements over the Green Line, on land the Palestinians want for a future state and to halt house demolitions, which rights groups view as a form of collective punishment.

But Erekat, standing beside Kerry in Ramallah, also made a case for peace directly to the Palestinians.

"No one benefits more from the success of Secretary Kerry's efforts than Palestinians and no one stands to lose more (from) failure than Palestinians," he said.

Kerry is on his tenth trip to the region in the past year as he seeks to secure a peace deal.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks brokered by the United States resumed last July after a three-year halt with Kerry leading mediation efforts to keep them going despite neither party expressing much hope for a successful outcome.

Kerry said he would fly to Jordan and to Saudi Arabia on Sunday to meet with the kings of each Arab nation to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which resumed on July 29 with a target of reaching a final agreement within nine months.

The top US diplomat met on Friday with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.

On Thursday, Kerry arrived to the region and immediately met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

During the meeting Kerry declared that peace is not “a mission impossible," while the premier spoke of growing Israeli doubts about the Palestinian commitment to peace.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.
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