Kerry to Visit Israel on Sunday
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Jerusalem Sunday to hold talks with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on the progress made in the Middle East peace talks and on Syria.
The two men will discuss "the final status negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, following on the secretary's meeting with [Palestinian Authority Chairman] Mahmoud Abbas in London last Monday," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was quoted by AFP as having said.
They would also talk about the conflict in Syria, Psaki added.
The top U.S. diplomat -- who has made it a personal mission to try to achieve a long-elusive peace deal between Israel and the PA -- met for three hours with Abbas in London earlier this week.
After also meeting with Arab League officials, Kerry praised efforts to hold talks "despite tough decisions and despite pressure that exists on both sides.
"Both the Palestinians and Israelis have remained steadfast in their commitment to continuing the talks," Kerry declared.
Since becoming secretary of state in February, Kerry has dedicated much of his energy to restarting peace talks. After six trips to the region in four months, he met negotiators from both sides -- Saeb Erekat on the PA side and Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni -- in Washington on July 29 and 30 to officially re-launch the talks.
Secret bilateral meetings, with and without the presence of American sponsors, have been ongoing since August.
Kerry asked both sides to keep the details of the negotiations secret in order to give the process a chance to work and, while Israeli officials have remain tight-lipped about the talks, PA officials have made several leaks to the press.
In the most recent leak, a PA official said that during the negotiations, Israel agreed to a wholesale deportation of thousands of Jews from Judea and Samaria and the transfer of their property to PA Arabs. However, the PA official who reported on that Israeli offer added that the PA side had rejected it as not going far enough.
In an earlier leak to the press, the PA's chief negotiator , Saeb Erekat, told an Arabic radio station that the US has guaranteed the PA all of its key preconditions in advance of negotiations.
At the same time, PA officials have publicly stated that achieving peace with Israel was impossible, blaming the Jewish state and its “occupation” of Judea and Samaria for this.