U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is trying to push Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to sign a peace agreement, is hinting that Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria may not be evicted from their homes when an agreement is signed.
In an interview with journalist Ilana Dayan on Channel 2, Kerry was asked what will be the personal price that residents of Judea and Samaria will have to pay for peace.
“I’m not at all certain they will have to leave their homes,” he replied.
The full interview will air Thursday evening on Dayan’s “Uvda” program, but excerpts from it were released on Wednesday.
Kerry was also asked in the interview about the comments against him by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who said last month that Kerry was “messianic” and “obsessive,” sparking outrage from the State Department.
The top U.S. diplomat dismissed the criticism, saying, “I’m doing my job. I think I’m committed and I’m determined, but I don’t think [I’m obsessive].”
Asked whether there is a chance that he will lose hope on securing peace between the sides, Kerry replied, “That’s not the way I operate. People who know me know that when I sink my teeth into something, I try to get it done.”
Kerry has remained optimistic about the talks throughout the process, stating in December that a deal was "close" despite ongoing complications and dispute over the terms from both the PA and Israel.
He has been trying to get both sides to agree to a framework agreement, of which little details have been revealed, though Thomas Friedman of the New York Times published some alleged details of the plan, which, he said, will call for a phased Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria based on the 1949 lines, with "unprecedented" security arrangements in the strategic Jordan Valley.
The Israeli withdrawal will not include certain settlement blocs, but Israel will compensate the Arab side for this with Israeli territory.
Martin Indyk, the U.S. Envoy to the Middle East, later revealed to American Jewish leaders that 75 to 80 percent of the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria would remain in their homes even after a permanent agreement. The agreement will include a reference to the incitement against Israel in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and will also include a reference to compensation for Jewish refugees who came from Arab countries.
In addition, the PA would recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Israel would recognize the Palestinian state, and the two sides will announce the end of the conflict.
On Wednesday, Kerry met with Jordan’s foreign minister for talks on the peace process.
"We are at an important point in the negotiations where we are engaged with narrowing the gaps between the parties on a framework for negotiations," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki later said.