Middle East

Israeli-Palestinian talks making 'progress'

US Secretary of State Kerry says he presented Israel with ideas on improving security as part of the peace talks.

Last updated: 05 Dec 2013 14:39
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Kerry will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas later on Thursday [AP]

US Secretary of State John Kerry has said that Israelis and Palestinians are making "progress" in the peace talks.

Kerry, speaking at a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, also announced that he presented Netanyahu with ideas on improving Israeli security as part of the talks.

On the ongoing the talks regarding Iran’s nuclear programme, Kerry said that Israel's security is at the top of United States' agenda, adding that his country will do anything it can to guarantee that Iran's nuclear capabilities are terminated.

Kerry also emphasised that Washington will consult with Israel throughout the talks. He also reminded that although the sanctions on Tehran have been eased, the fundamental sanctions on oil and banking are still in place.

"It is not changed. And we will be stepping up our effort of enforcement through the Treasury Department and through the appropriate agencies of the US," Kerry told reporters.

'Unbreakable bond'

Kerry defined the bond between the US and Israel as "unbreakable" and stressed that only "tactical differences" can happen between the two countries, not fundamental ones. 

"A peaceful programme should not be that hard to prove," he said referring to Iran's nuclear programme.

Netanyahu, for his part, said that his country was ready to acknowledge the understanding achieved through the talks with Palestinians.

On Iran, he said that steps must be taken to prevent unravelling of Iran sanctions and a final deal with this country should make sure that the country's nuclear capabilities would be shut down.

Iran and six world powers (Iran and the US, France, Germany, UK, China and Russia) clinched a deal last month to curb the Iranian nuclear programme in exchange for initial sanctions relief, a development harshly opposed by Israel.

The agreement, which halts Iran's most sensitive nuclear activity, its higher-grade enrichment of uranium, was tailored as a package of confidence-building steps towards a final deal.

Kerry to meet Abbas

John Kerry will also hold talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to step up American involvement in the hope of reviving faltering peace efforts with Israel.

Kerry was expected to present a security plan to Abbas as well on Thursday, according to US officials.

The proposal marks the first time that Kerry has directly intervened in the talks since they began in late July.

The two sides agreed to resume negotiating, their first substantive dialogue in five years, under heavy American pressure.

Kerry has repeatedly shuttled to the region and held lengthy phone conversations with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in hopes of pushing the talks forward.


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