US Secretary of State John Kerry has left the Middle East after four days of intense diplomacy talks, which he insists were fruitful despite failing to agree to a framework for Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.
Kerry headed home on Monday from his tenth visit to the region as US top diplomat, which he spent most of locked in separate meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
He also made a surprise day trip to key Arab allies, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
With the US remaining tight-lipped about the details, little news filtered out about Kerry’s proposals to bridge the huge gaps between the two sides as they seek to draw up the contours of two states living side by side.
According to a report in Israeli daily Maariv, Kerry pressed Netanyahu to agree to a formula which would enable the return of some Palestinian refugees, who fled or were expelled from Israel when the Jewish state was created in 1948.
Netanyahu refused, Maariv said. According to the newspaper, Israeli negotiators also wish to extend talks beyond their agreed April deadline to January 2015, in return for freezing some settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.
Jordan and Saudi Arabia will be key to any deal.
Jordan’s historic role in the guardianship of Muslim sites in Israeli-invaded Arab east Jerusalem is recognised under its 1994 peace treaty with Israel.
Saudi Arabia authored a 2002 peace plan which is the basis of Arab aspirations for any deal.