No Sign of Breakthrough as John Kerry Peace Talks Drag On

Both Sides Downbeat Despite Extension of Trip

Man in Motion: John Kerry is shuttling between Jerusalem and Amman, Jordan. But both Israeli and Palestinian leaders played down the possibility of a breakthrough.
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Man in Motion: John Kerry is shuttling between Jerusalem and Amman, Jordan. But both Israeli and Palestinian leaders played down the possibility of a breakthrough.

By Reuters

Published June 29, 2013.
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State Department officials said Abbas and Kerry had met privately for about two hours at Abbas’s residence in Amman before advisers joined them.

“U.S. efforts are continuing (but) until now no results that can lead to the resumption of negotiations,” a Palestinian source, briefed by officials on the talks, told Reuters.

It was unclear whether Kerry would be able to announce a breakthrough before his scheduled departure for Asia on Sunday; U.S. officials have compared his shuttle diplomacy to Henry Kissinger’s Middle East peace efforts in the 1970s.

Kerry - now on his fifth visit as a peace broker - has said he would not have returned to the region so soon if he did not believe he could make progress. He has been guarded about his plans to break the stalemate, while warning time is running out.

He is keen to clinch a deal to resume talks before the United Nations General Assembly, which has already granted de facto recognition to a Palestinian state, convenes in September.

Netanyahu is concerned that the Palestinians, in the absence of direct peace talks, could use the U.N. session as a springboard for further statehood moves circumventing Israel.

With the Middle East engulfed in turmoil from protests in Egypt to the Syrian civil war, which is spilling into neighbouring countries, Kerry has said it is time for “hard decisions” by Israel and the Palestinians.

“It is urgent because time is the enemy of a peace process,” he said in Kuwait last week. “The passage of time allows a vacuum to be filled by people who don’t want things to happen.”

State Department officials believe the sides will return to negotiations once there is an agreement on confidence-building measures - such as a partial Israeli amnesty for Palestinian security prisoners - and a formula for fresh talks.

As an incentive for talks, Kerry is also working on a $4 billion economic plan led by ex-British prime minister Tony Blair, which would channel new investments in Palestinian areas via the private sector to boost jobs and economic growth.


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