U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday he was “pleased” with his discussions among Israeli and Palestinian leaders this week as he scrambled to salvage faltering peace talks in a furious round of shuttle diplomacy.
“We’ve created some clarity on some of the points,” Mr Kerry told Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Wednesday. “I was pleased.”
Mr Kerry’s comments after he announced he would be returning to Israel on Friday for a third meeting with Mr Netanyahu in two days. Speaking in a joint interview with Israeli and Palestinian TV networks, which will air later Thursday, Mr Kerry said he would meet with Mr Netanyhu in Jerusalem. He had not originally been scheduled to return to Israel.
Mr Kerry will now see Mr Abbas again Thursday night in Amman and then return to Jerusalem on Friday for a third meeting with Mr Netanyahu in two days before continuing with his swing through the Middle East and North Africa in the United Arab Emirates, Algeria and Morocco.
Mr Kerry brokered the re-start of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which began three months ago. But little progress has been made in the talks, which are supposed to produce an agreement by the end of April 2014.
Mr Kerry has been hit with complaints from both sides during his trip while working to maintain an optimistic tone. On Wednesday he noted that in any negotiation “there will be moments of up and moments of down.”
Tensions have been running high after Palestinians said a secret negotiating session on Tuesday broke down in a dispute over Israeli settlement construction.
U.S.-brokered talks for Israeli-Palestinian peace began at Mr Kerry’s behest three months ago. Both sides have remained largely quiet on the negotiations but there has been little, if any, progress evident.
The stalemate has prompted speculation that the U.S. may need to increase its involvement in the talks and present its own outline for peace or lower expectations and pursue a more limited, interim agreement.