Kerry Meets Israeli, Palestinian Leaders over Troubled Peace Process
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - US Secretary of State John Kerry, faced with grim Israeli and Palestinian assessments of progress in peace talks, said on Wednesday that Washington was not giving up on a deal.
"As in any negotiation there will be moments of up and moments of down, and it goes back and forth," Kerry said in Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank, where he met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Reuters reported.
"But I can tell you that President Obama and I are determined, and neither of us will stop in our efforts to pursue the possibility (of peace)," he said.
Earlier at a meeting with Kerry in nearby Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the negotiations on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had failed to make any real progress.
The bleak picture painted by the right-wing leader was similar to the one sketched by senior Palestinians, who have said an Israeli plan announced last week for 3,500 more settler homes in the occupied West Bank was a major obstacle to the success of the negotiations.
But in Bethlehem, Kerry said the United States, Israel's closest ally, was convinced "that despite the difficulties, both leaders, President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu, are also determined to work towards this goal".
Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories it captured in the 1967 Middle East war and which Palestinians seek, along with the Hamas Islamist-run Gaza Strip for a state, are considered illegal by most countries.