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Kerry Says Too Early to Declare Talks Dead

Kerry announces canceled Abbas meeting, but says despite crisis talks set to continue until the end of April.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 4/1/2014, 10:30 PM

John Kerry
John Kerry
Reuters

US Secretary of State John Kerry responded to Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's announced request to join 15 international organizations on Tuesday in breach of the peace talk conditions, a move potentially torpedoing the talks.

Despite Abbas's unilateral move for international recognition in breach of the peace talk conditions, established last July by Kerry, the secretary of state noted "President Abbas has given me his word that he will continue to negotiate until the end of April." The talks are set to last until April 29.

"It is completely premature tonight to draw...any final judgement about today's events and where things are," stated Kerry at a press conference in Brussels, reports AFP. "This is a moment to be really clear-eyed and sober about this process."

"It is difficult, it is emotional, it requires huge decisions, some of them with great political difficulty, all of which need to come together simultaneously," noted Kerry. "Obviously it's moments like this where we all need to remember exactly what brought us to this effort in the first place, what the goal is and where everybody wants to end up."

Kerry announced that he had cancelled a planned meeting with Abbas in Ramallah on Wednesday, saying "we have certain things we are trying to figure out in terms of the logistics on the ground and what is possible."

Kerry added "my team is on the ground meeting with the parties even now. We urge both parties to show restraint."

Kerry further claimed that none of the 15 institutions the PA asked for membership into were part of the UN. The claim contradicts Abbas, who said earlier on Tuesday "the Palestinian leadership has unanimously approved a decision to seek membership of 15 UN agencies and international treaties, beginning with the Fourth Geneva Convention."

Hinting at the reports Tuesday that the US had offered the release of Jonathan Pollard, now in his 29th year in an American prison on charges of spying for Israel, in exchange for over 400 Israeli-held Arab terrorists and a partial construction freeze, Kerry said no agreement had been reached over "any prisoner."

Pollard on Tuesday waived a parole hearing in a move to protest the proposal, in a message of refusal to be released in exchanged for terrorists. Arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti was said to be among the Arab terrorists in the deal.