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Middle East

Kerry in Jerusalem to revive negotiations

US secretary of state meeting Israeli and Palestinian leaders as peace talks stumble over Israeli settlement-building.

Last Modified: 06 Nov 2013 09:29
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John Kerry, the US secretary of state, is holding talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to try to keep the peace process from collapsing, urging them to reach a ong-elusive deal.

Kerry is expected to hold talks on Wednesday with Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, and Shimon Peres, Israeli president, in Jerusalem, and with Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian president, in Bethlehem.

After months of shuttle diplomacy, Kerry persuaded Israel and the Palestinians to reopen peace talks in late July after a nearly five-year break.

The sides have committed to hold nine months of talks in hopes of reaching a peace deal that would end decades of conflict.

But a senior Palestinian official, who asked to remain anonymous, told AFP news agency that the Palestinians would refuse to continue the talks as long as Jewish settlement on the West Bank proliferates.

"The Israeli side is determined to continue its settlement and we cannot continue negotiations under these unprecedented settlement attacks," he said after a meeting of Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.

"The Palestinian-Israeli negotiations broke down during the session on Tuesday night."

The parties have largely honoured Kerry's request to keep the content of the negotiations secret.

Degree of scepticism

Al Jazeera's Mika Hanna reporting from Jerusalem, said there is a great degree of scepticism on both sides.

"There is a degree of deja vu: we have all seen these processes before," he said. "What maybe perhaps different in this particular track is the changing circumstances within the region. And one must take note too that Netanyahu won't be talking only about peace talks with John Kerry."

In a symbolic message, Kerry headed first for the Tel Aviv square where Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated 18 years ago to honour the memory of "a great man of peace".

Rabin, who memorably shook hands with late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn, was killed on November 4, 1995, by an extremist opposed to concessions in the peace talks.

Laying a wreath at a memorial in the square, Kerry recalled how just before he was shot, Rabin had been singing a song of peace with President Shimon Peres.

"We are now 18 years since that moment and it is clear that we need voices ready to sing a song of peace, loudly, with courage, with the same determination prime minister Rabin showed with his quest for peace," Kerry said.

"He dared to take the risks for peace, not just because it was important to take the risks, but that it was vital to secure the future of Israel and the region."

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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