'All Issues on the Table'

Kerry hopes for 'lasting peace' based on "Two-State Solution" - but negotiations to be held in secrecy.

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Ari Soffer,

John Kerry in Tel Aviv, June 2013
John Kerry in Tel Aviv, June 2013
Flash 90

US Secretary of State John Kerry reaffirmed his government's commitment to a "2-State Solution" between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) today, as he summed up the initial progress made between the sides amid renewed negotiations.

The brief press conference started an hour late, and relatively few details of the discussions held between Israeli chief negotiator Tzipi Livni and her PA counterpart were revealed.

One significant point which was mentioned by Kerry was that "all final status issues... core issues and all other issues are all on the table."

Calling for a "change" in "the way we think about compromise," Kerry insisted that "everyone can gain" from the negotiations, and that negotiations were being conducted in the interests of the "people." 

Despite those claims, Kerry also declared that the meetings - scheduled to restart some time in the next two weeks and continue over the course of nine months - will be held in complete secrecy.

Stating that only he will be authorized to say anything about talks, Kerry warned against believing "rumors" or statements from any other sources.

Calling for a "2-State Solution" involving an Israeli retreat from Judea and Samaria, he insisted that there was "no alternative," and promised that such an agreement would enable Israelis to "truly live in peace. Not just the absence of conflict, but a full and lasting peace with Arab and Muslim nations and an end the pernicius attacks on Israeli legitimacy."

Further Israeli concessions

It was also announced that in "the coming days" the Israeli government will be "taking steps" to ease security measures in Judea, Samaria and on its boarder with Gaza..

Israel has already agreed to free 104 convicted terrorist murderers, and it is not clear what concessions - if any - will be made by the PA.

In other developments, US President Barack Obama on Tuesday said that he was "hopeful" about the renewed talks. .

Obama, who travelled to Israel in March for his first visit to the region as president, met with Israeli Justice Minister and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni and her Palestinian Authoirty counterpart Saed Erakat, AFP reported.

He has welcomed the start of new talks as a "promising step" forward, and promised US support as the two sides mull the "hard choices" facing them.

"The most difficult work of these negotiations is ahead, and I am hopeful that both the Israeli and Palestinians will approach these talks in good faith," Obama said Monday.

Kerry warned on Monday that "many difficult choices lie ahead for the negotiators and for the leaders as we seek reasonable compromises on tough, complicated, emotional and symbolic issues."

The two sides have agreed to continue talking for at least nine months, a State Department official said, cautioning though that this was not a deadline.

In a sign of the continued hostilities, a rocket fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza region hit southern Israel early Tuesday, but caused no casualties.

The Islamist terrorist group is deeply opposed to the resumed talks, but has observed an informal truce with Israel since the latter's counterterrorism operation in November.