US Secretary of State John Kerry has said he will depart in two weeks on another trip to the Middle East to push peace between Israel and the Palestinians as he seeks to breathe fresh life into the talks stalled since late 2010.
Kerry met with Israeli Justice Minister and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni in Rome on Wednesday, after meeting the Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, in Washington last week.
‘Seriousness of purpose’
All sides were approaching the issues “with a seriousness of purpose that has not been present in a while and we all believe that we are working with a short time span,” Kerry said as he met Livni in the US ambassador’s residence in Rome.
He added they were working through “a threshold of questions” and he would return to Israel around “the 21 or 22 of this month” to meet both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
US President Barack Obama spoke to Netanyahu, who is visiting China, on Wednesday to discuss “regional security issues and Middle East peace”, the White House said.
The call between Netanyahu and Obama patched up a previously testy relationship during the US leader’s trip to Israel in March.
Livni praised Kerry’s efforts saying “after some years of stalemate … your enthusiasm and efforts could change the realities”.
“I believe that what you are doing here could create hope in the region, because people somehow lost hope.”
She also welcomed last week’s Arab League announcement that it supports minor Israeli-Palestinian land swaps as “very good news” and called on the bloc to support Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “in entering the negotiations room.”
Netanyahu’s envoy to the peace process, Yitzhak Molcho, also attended the meeting.
On Thursday Kerry was to meet the Middle East envoy for the Quartet, Tony Blair, State Department spokeswoman Jen Pskai told AFP news agency.
He will also hold talks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh on both Syria, and Jordan’s role in the peace process.