Kerry 'hopeful' on new Mideast talks, but warns 'very tough choices' ahead

US secretary of state concludes successful round of shuttle diplomacy, says 2 sides will send envoys to Washington next week.

July 20, 2013 03:41
2 minute read.
US Secretary of State John Kerry in Amman

Kerry in Amman. (photo credit: Reuters)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, a right-winger, has long balked at withdrawing to the 1967 lines, and his coalition government includes a nationalist-religious faction opposed to any settlement removal.

Abbas's own authority is in question; while his US-backed administration holds sway in the West Bank, Gaza is governed by rival, armed Hamas Islamists who reject permanent coexistence with the Jewish state.

"Abbas does not have the legitimacy to negotiate on fateful issues on behalf of the Palestinian people," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.

Kerry's announcement, on the eve of the Jewish sabbath and as Muslims ended their daily Ramadan fast, may have been meant in part to deflect domestic scrutiny from Netanyahu and Abbas.

Their "courageous leadership" was commended by Kerry.

"Both of them have chosen to make difficult choices here, and both of them were instrumental in pushing in this direction. We wouldn't be standing here tonight if they hadn't made the choices," he said.

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