July 19, 2013

Kerry wins step to resuming Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

Israel and Palestinian negotiators will soon meet in Washington to work out final details of relaunching peace negotiations.

The Washington Post

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a press conference at Queen Alia International Airport on Friday, July 19, 2013. Kerry says Israel and the Palestinians will meet soon in Washington to finalize an agreement on relaunching peace negotiations for the first time in five years. Kerry has told reporters that he and the two sides "reached an agreement that establishes a basis for direct final status negotiations," but he added that it is "still in the process of being formalized." The announcement Friday came at the end of a visit by Kerry to the region holding several days of talks with both sides. (AP Photo/Mandel Ngan, Pool)

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, center left, meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, center right, on Friday, in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The Associated Press

Kerry said nothing about when Netanyahu and Abbas would meet, but he praised both leaders. "Both of them have chosen to make difficult choices here," Kerry said, without elaboration.

Kerry said both sides had agreed that only he would make further comments about the plan for talks, which he said is still a work in progress.

The Obama administration has pushed hard for a resumption in talks, even as crises in Egypt and Syria have competed for officials' attention. On Thursday, Obama spoke with Netanyahu by phone and encouraged him to continue to work with Kerry to resume negotiations with the Palestinians, according to a White House statement.

Kerry had extended his trip to avoid returning to Washington empty-handed. He met twice on Friday with Erekat, the Palestinian negotiator, in Amman, before jumping on a helicopter to meet with Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

That meeting lasted only an hour. Kerry subsequently returned to Amman and then flew back to Washington.

Kerry had hoped to restart talks in June and had said during his last visit to the region, late last month, that a deal to do so was within reach.

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