Kerry hits snags in bringing Israelis, Palestinians to table for peace talks
AMMAN — Secretary of State John Kerry's drive to revive Middle East peace talks hit familiar warning signals on Thursday as Israel's prime minister stressed security needs and a Palestinian negotiator denounced Israeli settlement building.
Kerry, on his fifth visit to the region, met Jordan's King Abdullah for talks focused on both the peace process and the Syrian civil war, which has driven more than 500,000 refugees into Jordan.
He later met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and was to return to Amman for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday.
Israeli settlement building on occupied land that Palestinians seek for a state remains a main stumbling block to the resumption of peace talks that collapsed over the issue in 2010.
Kerry's arrival in Amman on Wednesday coincided with news that Israel had approved 69 new housing units in a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem, while building continues elsewhere.
“Obviously, steps like this are unhelpful, but we remain hopeful that both parties will recognize the opportunity and the necessity to go back to the table,” a State Department official said.
Abbas has long demanded settlement activity stop before peace talks resume, despite U.S. and Israeli calls for negotiations without preconditions.
“Settlement activity in and around occupied East Jerusalem is one of the main reasons why the two-state solution is disappearing, as without East Jerusalem there will be no Palestinian state,” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said.
Netanyahu, professing his support for the establishment of a Palestinian state, which he says must be demilitarized, has quietly frozen most housing starts in settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
But in a speech on Thursday, he appeared to put the United States on notice that he would stick to his security demands even at the risk of failed peace efforts, should they resume.
The prime minister said Israelis “do not want a bi-national state” — a reference to the possibility of Palestinians eventually vying for equal standing were Israel to merge with the West Bank. But he said Israelis understood that security is a “fundamental condition for our existence.”
Kerry has revealed few details of his strategy to bring the sides together.
But he has said he wants to show progress before September, when the U.N. General Assembly, which has granted de facto recognition to a Palestinian state, resumes its debate over the Middle East.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Miss Uganda hopefuls get dirty in agriculture phase of contest
- Attack on Egypt army post in Sinai peninsula kills 30 troops
- As oil prices fall, fear rises in Venezuela
- Everything is America’s fault, Putin says
- 2 dead in shooting attack at Canada’s Parliament
- Sweden calls off search for mystery submarine
- Gunman in Ottawa attack had been waiting for passport to go to Syria
- Canada balances security, openness