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Middle East

US: Borders essential for Middle East peace

Top US negotiator says Israel and Palestine lack sense of urgency to make "gut-wrenching compromises" needed for peace.

Last updated: 10 May 2014 00:50
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Status of Jerusalem is a key issue for Kerry, according to US negotiator Martin Indyk [AP]

US Secretary of State John Kerry believes sketching the borders of a future Palestinian state and agreeing to security arrangements for Israel will be "essential" if peace talks resume, the top US negotiator in talks has said.

In his first public comments since negotiations collapsed last month, Martin Indyk described the atmosphere between Israelis and Palestinians and expressed hope that talks would resume soon.

Speaking late on Thursday at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think-tank, Indyk said although the two sides both showed "flexibility" it was clear they did not "feel the pressing need to make the gut-wrenching compromises necessary to achieve peace".

'Comfortable status quo'

Despite nine months of "serious and intensive negotiations", Indyk said it was "easier for the Palestinians to sign conventions and appeal to international bodies in their supposed pursuit of justice.

"It is easier for Israeli politicians to avoid tension in the governing coalition and for the Israeli people to maintain the current comfortable status quo," said Indyk, a former US ambassador to Israel.

"If we, the US, are the only party that has a sense of urgency, these negotiations will not succeed."

Should the peace talks resume, however, Kerry believes both sides must work on the future contours of a Palestinian state and security arrangements for Israel, alongside the other core issues such as refugees and Jerusalem, according to Indyk.

"Once a border is agreed each party would be free to build in its own state," Indyk argued, highlighting the tensions caused by announcements of Israeli plans for more than 12,800 new settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

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