Kerry revisits Israel to boost peace talks

Jerusalem, Dec 13: US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Israel Thursday for another visit to the region to salvage negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, a spokesperson for the US embassy to Israel said.

The storm hit Israel and specifically Jerusalem altered Kerry’s plans for the visit. Instead of meeting Israeli leaders Thursday, Kerry will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Thursday and Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Friday, Xinhua reported.

This is Kerry’s second visit to the region in last two weeks. The US top diplomat last time presented to both sides a security-arrangements plan in hopes of boosting the dwindling talks. During the current visit, Kerry will follow up on the plan proposed last visit and will go over its details with both parties.

According to Palestinian officials, the plan includes having the Israeli military deployed throughout the Jordanian border on lands of the Palestinian territory for 10 years, something greatly objected to by Abbas.

The officials say, Israel insists on discussing security issues and does not move on to other topics including the future Palestinian state’s borders and its sovereignty.

Whereas the Israelis insist on security arrangements and the US officials are focused on those security issues, the Palestinians fear that other topics that are important to them would be pushed aside, including the status of Jerusalem, the Palestinian sovereignty and the question of the Palestinian refugees.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians began last July after a three-year halt in talks, due to Israel’s construction in the settlements.

IANS