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Middle East

Kerry to push for progress on Mideast peace

The US secretary of state will meet leaders from Israel and Palestine in a bid to revive the faltering negotiations.

Last updated: 05 Dec 2013 07:36
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Officials say that Kerry's initiative will bring the two sides closer together [AP]

US Secretary of State John Kerry is set to hold talks with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to step up American involvement in the hope of reviving faltering peace efforts.

Kerry will present the outlines of a West Bank security plan in meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Thursday, US officials said.

The proposal will mark 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.

But by all accounts, the negotiations have made no progress, despite an April target date for reaching a deal.

Palestinian officials say the two sides remain divided on the key issues of borders, security, the status of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees, while Israeli officials accuse Palestinian leaders of hampering the talks by refusing to recognise the country as a "Jewish state".

Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank has continued despite criticism from American and European governments, whose officials have said that continued Israeli resistance to halting such efforts threatens the possibility of any peace agreement.

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