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Kerry presses sides on framework agreement

JTA

January 3, 2014 | 1:23 pm

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Jerusalem on Jan. 3. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Jerusalem on Jan. 3. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Palestinian and Israeli leaders to discuss a framework agreement.

Kerry, who met Friday in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, was on his 10th visit in the region to discuss the outlines of such an agreement, according to State Department officials who accompanied Kerry.

The framework Kerry hopes to achieve would address borders and Israel’s character as a Jewish state.

Kerry, in an impromptu appearance Friday afternoon at an event in Jerusalem for American students organized by the American Jewish Committee, said getting to a deal would be “very, very difficult,” Haaretz reported.

Palestinian and Israeli leaders have pledged to Kerry that they would not discuss the negotiations. But Saeb Erekat, the top Palestinian negotiator, told Israel Radio that the sides are further apart than ever. Netanyahu told two visiting U.S. senators, John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), about his concerns regarding Kerry’s proposals.

“Netanyahu has serious, serious concerns about the plan as it has been presented to him, whether it be on the ability of Israel to defend its borders, on the reliability of a Palestinian state,” McCain was quoted by Haaretz as saying after the meeting.

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