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Kerry Makes Sudden Unannounced Israel Visit in Bid to Save Talks

In an attempt to salvage failing peace talks, Kerry makes another visit to Israel to meet with Netanyahu, Abbas.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 3/31/2014, 2:32 PM

Binyamin Netanyahu and John Kerry (file)
Binyamin Netanyahu and John Kerry (file)
Flash 90

US Secretary of State John Kerry will be making another visit to Israel on Monday, in yet another attempt to save the failing peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

The sudden visit was revealed to AFP by State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki. Kerry was reportedly considering the visit while in Paris on Sunday, and later Sunday night called Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in what apparently was an effort to coordinate the last-minute visit.

"Our negotiating team has been working with both parties on the ground to help them agree on a path forward, and Secretary Kerry has kept in close touch with his counterparts by phone," Psaki noted. "After consulting with his team, Secretary Kerry decided it would be productive to return to the region."

Psaki reported that Kerry will be in Israel on Monday and Tuesday, and aside from meeting Netanyahu in Jerusalem will likely meet PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. Kerry interrupted a trip to Rome to meet with Abbas just last Wednesday, amid the failing talks.

"Over the course of the last eight months, the Israelis and Palestinians have both made tough choices, and as we work with them to determine the next steps, it is important they remember that only peace will bring the Israeli and Palestinian people both the security and economic prosperity they all
deserve," Psaki added.

While in Paris on Sunday, Kerry told reporters that it was not yet appropriate for the US to make any public judgement about the peace talks "at this important moment."

"It's really a question between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and what prime minister Netanyahu is prepared to do," Kerry stated. "We'll see where we are tomorrow when some judgments have to be made."

The fourth and final batch of terrorist releases was refused by Israel on Saturday. Netanyahu reportedly told Kerry that if the release went through it risked toppling his government, given the widespread protest of the unpopular "gesture" to promote the peace talks.

The PA has threatened that it will go to the UN this week in unilateral moves for international recognition, in violation of the peace talk conditions, if the terrorists were not released. It has yet to follow through on that threat.

Abbas has brought the talks to a loggerhead by adamantly refusing to recognize Israel as the Jewish state. Kerry's visit apparently aims to deal with the massive difficulties faced on all fronts by the peace talks he initiated.