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Kerry: U.S. to reconsider peacemaking role

by JTA

April 4, 2014 | 11:51 am

Photo credit: Getty images

Photo credit: Getty images

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States planned to re-evaluate its approach to Middle East peacemaking in light of recent setbacks.

In response to a question while visiting Morocco, Kerry said that he would return to Washington to confer with President Obama before deciding on the next steps. He said it was “reality-check time.”

“There are limits to the amount of time and effort that the United States can spend if the parties themselves are unwilling to take constructive steps in order to be able to move forward,” he said Friday.

“We intend to evaluate,” he added. “Both sides say they want to continue. Neither party has said they have called it off. But we are not going to sit there indefinitely. It is not an open-ended effort,” he added, according to the New York Times.

But he acknowledged that the United States faced an array of foreign policy challenges, including in Ukraine, Iran and Syria. “We have an enormous amount on the plate,” he said.

On Friday, Kerry phoned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a bid to save the peace talks amid breakdowns that prevented progress.

On Tuesday, Abbas led the Palestinian Authority to apply to join 15 international conventions in defiance of its commitment not to seek such recognition until an agreement is in place.

Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid said wrote on Facebook that this “looks more like a deliberate provocation aimed at blowing up the talks.”

Abbas went ahead with the application after Israel failed to release 26 Palestinian prisoners it said it would release in a framework agreement for jump-starting talks. Israeli officials said they did not agree to the release of Israeli Arabs, a move which the Palestinian Authority demanded.

Palestinian negotiators are currently demanding that Netanyahu give a written commitment to recognize east Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital and lift the naval blockade from Gaza as a condition to going ahead with peace talks, Army Radio on Friday reported. They are also demanding the release 1,200 prisoners, including Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, the report said.

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