Benjamin Netanyahu Downbeat on Peace as John Kerry Jets in for Talks

Premier Cites 'Growing Doubt' on Palestinian Commitment

Gloomy Outlook: John Kerry meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he seeks to jumpstart Middle East peace talks.
getty images
Gloomy Outlook: John Kerry meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he seeks to jumpstart Middle East peace talks.

By Reuters

Published January 02, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered a gloomy assessment of peace prospects with the Palestinians on Thursday as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry began his 10th visit to the region in pursuit of a deal.

“There is growing doubt in Israel that the Palestinians are committed to peace,” said Netanyahu, speaking with Kerry at his side and accusing Palestinian officials of orchestrating a campaign of “unabated incitement” against Israel.

In the days before Kerry’s latest trip to Jerusalem, Palestinian leaders have likewise accused Israel of trying to sabotage the talks aimed at ending their decades-old conflict.

Kerry focused his remarks on a continued U.S. push toward a final peace agreement, which Washington hopes to achieve by April, and his shorter-term pursuit of a framework deal that would pave the way for a permanent accord.

He said Israeli and Palestinian leaders were nearing the point, or were already at it, where they would have to make tough decisions, and he pledged to work with both sides more intensely to try to narrow differences on a framework agreement.

Guidelines in such an accord would address core issues such as the borders of a future Palestinian state, security, Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem, Kerry said.

“It would create the fixed, defined parameters by which the parties would then know where they are going and what the end result can be,” he said. “This will take time and it will take compromise from both sides, but an agreed framework would be a significant breakthrough.”

FAR APART

On key issues in the conflict, leaders from both sides have sounded far apart this week.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin on Thursday rejected the creation of a Palestinian state based on the lines pre-dating the 1967 Six-Day War, in which Israel captured and occupied Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

“The Jordan Valley must be under Israeli sovereignty forever,” he said, referring to the border area with Jordan, from which Palestinians want a full Israeli withdrawal.

“The 1967 borders are Auschwitz borders,” Ha’aretz newspaper quoted him as saying, suggesting that a return to the narrower boundaries that existed before the conflict would lead to the destruction of Israel.

On Tuesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas renewed a call for all Israeli settlers and soldiers within the lands captured in 1967 to be withdrawn, saying he would not hesitate to reject a bad deal.

“We will say ‘yes’ to any ideas suggested to us which meet our rights. But we will not fear and will not hesitate for a moment … to say ‘no’, whatever the pressure, to any proposal which detracts from or doesn’t fulfil the higher national interests of our people,” he said in a speech.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat last month said a framework agreement could allow the talks to be continued for another year. However, earlier this week, he said the U.S.-brokered talks were “failing”, and threatened to haul Israel before the International Criminal Court.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, a senior U.S. State Department official said Kerry was not expecting a breakthrough during his latest visit, when he will also meet with Abbas.

Kerry said on Thursday he did not intend to impose U.S. ideas, but to “facilitate the parties’ own efforts”.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.