Kerry leaves for Rome to meet Netanyahu

Meeting between PM and Secretary of State expected to deal with Quartet report criticizing Israel.

Ben Ariel ,

Kerry and Netanyahu (archive)
Kerry and Netanyahu (archive)
Prime Minister's Office

United States Secretary of State John Kerry left Washington on Saturday and headed to Rome, where he will meet Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday and Monday, AFP reported.

Some reports have suggested Kerry will use the meeting to assess the possibility of reviving the stalled Israeli-Palestinian Authority (PA) peace process, but many believe the meeting is likely to touch on the imminent release of a report by the Quartet which is expected to be critical of Israeli policies in Judea and Samaria.

This week, ahead of Kerry's trip, his spokesman John Kirby said, "There are plenty of issues coming up that merit Israel and the United States' discussion."

Kirby said the Quartet's report "will include recommendations that will help inform international discussions on the best way to advance a two-state solution."

He added that the document will "largely" reflect the Quartet's previous statement in September last year.

The September report cited Israel's "ongoing settlement activity and the high rate of demolition of Palestinian structures" as "dangerously imperiling the viability" of a two-state deal.

The meeting between Kerry and Netanyahu comes amid increasing international activities aimed at reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, particularly the French initiative which has raised a great deal of concern in Netanyahu's bureau.

On June 3, France hosted a summit of foreign ministers in Paris who discussed ways in which the international community could "help advance the prospects for peace, including by providing meaningful incentives to the parties to make peace," 

Netanyahu has also repeatedly stated Israel’s objection to the initiative, and told French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault that it would be better if France and its partners would encourage Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas to accept Netanyahu’s invitation to sit down for direct negotiations.

The United States gave the French move a cool reception, but Kerry did attend the June 3 summit in Paris and has called on both sides to take "affirmative steps" to calm tempers and preserve the possibility of peace.