Kerry: Confident in Netanyahu's Commitment to Peace
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met on Monday at the State Department with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
In remarks to reporters before the meeting, Kerry said, “Israel, as everybody knows, is a very special friend to the United States of America. And we have just had a very constructive luncheon with the President and a very important meeting before that with a larger group of people. And now the Prime Minister and I will talk about both Iran, the Middle East peace process, Syria, and issues of concern.”
"We are committed to continuing to work constructively to move forward on the peace process, though it is always difficult, complicated. We know that. But we’re working in good faith,” he added.
“I have confidence in the Prime Minister’s commitment to this effort, and I also want him to know that as we reach out to respond to Iran’s efforts to purportedly change its relationship with the world, we do so very aware of and sensitive to the security needs of Israel and the demands for certainty and transparency and accountability in this process.”
“So I look forward today to furthering our conversation, and I’m very, very happy to finally welcome the Prime Minister here to the State Department,” said Kerry.
Netanyahu replied by saying, “We have if not the whole world, a good chunk of it to discuss, and we do so as friends and as people seriously committed to both achieving security and a durable peace. These are hard things to achieve, but none better than you and us to try to do it together.”
Kerry played an important role in renewing the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, spending months in trying to bringing the sides together.
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.