Kerry sees Israeli, Palestinian deal possible by end of April


Kerry sees Israeli, Palestinian deal possible by end of April

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday a final Middle East peace deal was still scheduled to be achieved by the end of April, and that Israel would release more Palestinian prisoners on Dec. 29.

Speaking after separate talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank and with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Kerry told reporters:

“We’re not talking at this point about any shifts (in the scheduled deadline) and the next tranche of prisoners is due to take place on 29th of December and it will take place then.”

Israel has freed about half the 104 prisoners it had pledged to release from its jails under the deal secured by Kerry in July to renew negotiations that had been deadlocked for nearly three years.

Israel and Palestine reject US initiatives on settling on eve of Kerry’s visit

Leaders of Israel and Palestine rejected Washington’s new initiatives on settlement that US Secretary of State John Kerry outlined last week. He will visit Jerusalem and Ramallah on December 11. As Israeli media reported on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday criticized Kerry’s plan at a meeting with ministers and MPs from the Likud Beiteinu faction led by him.

The plan envisages providing security of Israel after the declaration of Palestine’s independence by introducing foreign troops in the Jordan Valley and creating robust technical security systems to prevent foreign terrorists from entering the territory.

The Jerusalem Post newspaper cites Netanyahu’s words in this regard: “On the border with Jordan, we need to keep Israeli, but not American or other foreign forces … We should maintain a presence in the Jordan Valley, because on the other side of the border are the jihadists.”

“We cannot stop terror alone with sensors and barbed wire,” the newspaper quoted Israel’s prime minister.

Kerry’s initiative provoked outrage among the Palestinians. Two prominent representatives of the Palestine — Secretary General of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization Yasser Abed Rabbo and the official representative of Palestine’s leader Nabil Abu Rudeina — accused US Secretary of State of promoting Israeli interests at the expense of Palestine.

According to Abed Rabbo, “the US is backing Israel’s expansionist ambitions in Jerusalem and on the West Bank of the Jordan River by promoting security plans.”

Meanwhile, Abu Rudeina stated that “there will be no deal with Israel without setting free Palestinian convicts.”

According to Maariv newspaper, last week Kerry threatened Palestinian negotiators that the release of the next group of Palestinians from Israeli prisons might be delayed if Palestine does not make concessions in the negotiations.

(Source / 13.12.2013)

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