Daily Israel Report

He'll Be Back: Kerry to Return for Visit With Abbas

After lightening meeting yesterday, Kerry to return for trip to Ramallah after urgent talks in Europe over Ukrainian crisis.
By Ari Soffer
First Publish: 4/1/2014, 4:03 PM

John Kerry waves as he leaves after lightening talks April 1 2014
John Kerry waves as he leaves after lightening talks April 1 2014
Reuters

US Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Ramallah on Wednesday after lightning talks in Brussels on the Ukraine crisis.  

Secretary Kerry will "visit Ramallah on Wednesday following the US-EU Energy Council meeting in Brussels. He will then continue with scheduled travel to Algeria and Morocco," said state department spokesperson Jen Psaki.

The announcement comes after a last-minute visit to Israel to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu dragged on longer than planned, forcing Kerry to leave without meeting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas. He did, however, meet with the PA's head negotiator Saeb Erekat.

The surprise visit was an attempt to salvage peace talks between Israel and the PA, which had floundered amid refusals by the PA to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and the Israeli government's decision in response to withhold the final installment of four prisoner releases as part of the negotiation process.

The release of 104 convicted terrorists had been contingent on progress in the talks, and Israeli officials have accused Abbas of not being serious, and simply using the talks as a tactic to free the prisoners.

But the impasse may soon be lifted, at least until the end of April, as the US has offered to release longtime imprisoned Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard after nearly 30 years behind bars.

However many Israelis have voiced their opposition to the deal - which would require Israel no not only release the last batch of 26 terrorists, but also to agree to a further 400 - including Israeli Arabs convicted of terrorism - and a freeze in construction in Judea and Samaria.