Livni: Coming days critical for peace talks

Justice minister says all must refrain playing "blame game."

Kerry Netanyahu Livni370 (photo credit: Courtesy - GPO)
Kerry Netanyahu Livni370
(photo credit: Courtesy - GPO)
The coming days are critical for the efforts to rekindle the frozen Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said after participating in Thursday morning's meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
"The effort to jump-start the negotiations, shouldn't just fall on the US, but also on the two sides," she said.
"It is easy to fall into the blame game. I'm suggesting that everyone, including the Palestinians, refrain from doing that now," she said.
"The objective is to re-start the negotiations and to end the conflict. I hope the Palestinians understand this," Livni said.
"The next days and weeks are critical. It is important to stay focused," she said.
Kerry arrived in Jerusalem from Amman on Thursday for a two-day visit to hold back-to-back meetings with Israeli and Palestinians officials.
Before heading into his meeting with Netanyahu this morning, Kerry said, “I know this region well enough to know that there is skepticism. In some quarters there is cynicism and there are reasons for it.
“There have been bitter years of disappointment. It is our hope that by being methodical, careful, patient, but detailed and tenacious, that we can lay out a path ahead that can conceivably surprise people, but certainly exhaust the possibilities of peace,” he said.
The two men smiled and shook hands as they stood next to an American and Israeli flag in Netanyahu’s Jerusalem office.
“Above all, what we want to do is to restart the peace talks with the Palestinians. You’ve been working at it a great deal. We’ve been working at it together. It’s something I want, it’s something you want. It’s something I hope the Palestinians want as well and we ought to be successful for a simple reason. When there’s a will, we’ll find a way,” Netanyahu said.
Kerry thanked Netanyahu for his efforts on behalf of restarting the peace process and said he had been working with him, along with Livni.
“I am appreciative that the Prime Minister has really put personal energy into helping us to define some of the work that we need to do to figure out the way forward,” Kerry said.
The meeting lasted two hours and included some time in which Kerry and Netanyahu spoke alone.
Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, special envoy Yitzhak Molho, and Military Secretary Eyal Zamir were also present at the meeting.
Next, Kerry traveled to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian officials, but the exact details of those meetings have yet to be released. Route 60 was briefly closed in the early afternoon and again later in the day to allow him to travel.
Netanyahu then met with former French president Nicholas Sarkozy and then separately with British Foreign Minister William Hague.
“We urge all parties to move the process forward and to really give the bold and decisive leadership that will allow success to happen and avoid steps that undermine it,” Hague said before his meeting with Netanyahu.
Kerry is expected to roll out a framework for returning to the negotiations in early June, and since taking office has been trying to get the various sides to take steps that would create a better environment more conducive to talks.
These steps include what is widely believed to be a de facto, but unstated, temporary freeze on construction beyond the Green Line, including in east Jerusalem; a Palestinian commitment to temporarily avoid seeking upgrades in international forum or taking Israel to the International Criminal Court; and the Arab league delegation's recent declaration that it would accept an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord that included a "mild" land swap.
Kerry is scheduled to meet with President Shimon Peres this evening.