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U.S. adviser works behind the scenes on Israel's security

REUTERS
Secretary of State John Kerry (L) walks with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat into Kerry's third meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank town of Ramallah June 30, 2013. Kerry squeezed in final meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Sunday as he wrapped up a fifth peace-brokering visit to the region. REUTERS

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By The Washington Post
Monday, July 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

A top American adviser has been working to establish ways for the United States to guarantee Israel's security in the event it no longer occupies the West Bank — part of the effort by Secretary of State John Kerry to restart peace talks, according to officials familiar with the strategy.

Kerry completed a new round of shuttle diplomacy on Sunday without a hoped-for breakthrough.

“With a little more work, the start of final status negotiations could be within reach,” he said shortly before leaving the region.

Meanwhile, retired Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, a special adviser to Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, has been seeking to identify Israel's potential security gaps and remedy what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu complains are outdated or incomplete assuran-ces of cooperation and equipment from the United States, the officials said. The goal is to remove potential deal-breakers.

Allen, the former top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has visited Israel twice and met officials in Germany for discussions about ways that the United States could update agreements reached with Israel during the last major push for a peace deal, in 2007 and 2008.

Allen and his Israeli counterparts are seeking “effective, innovative and feasible options that could be proposed to political leaders,” said a senior Obama administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The Obama administration has been publicly mum about the scope and intent of Allen's work since he was appointed to the job in May, saying only that it is part of wider effort to improve the chances for peace.

Kerry is trying simultaneously to stimulate the Palestinian economy with private-sector investment and dust off a dormant offer from Arab nations for a blanket peace agreement that would settle most disputes with Israel.

Netanyahu has agreed to resume peace talks if Palestinians drop preconditions.

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