RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas met withUS Secretary of State John Kerry in Ramallah on Tuesday hours after the American official met withIsraeliPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a visit to the region.
Presidential spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh said the meeting lasted for over two hours, with the Palestinian leadership reiterating key demands made during recent meetings in Amman and New York.
Abbas also stressed the release of a fourth group of Palestinian prisoners detained before the Oslo Accords, with both Kerry and Abbas agreeing to ongoing communication.
Kerry said following the meeting that the US was “committed to two states with two people, living side by side in peace and security.”
“I know that the situation for Palestinians in the West Bank, in Jerusalem, in Gaza is, at this moment, very dire, that there are extraordinary concerns, obviously, about the violence,” he added.
PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat and head of Palestinian Intelligence Majed Faraj both attended the talks.
On Oct. 24,Abbas demanded “international protection” for the occupied Palestinian territory during a meeting with Kerry in Amman.
PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat told Ma’an at the time that Abbas was calling for international protection against “terrorist” acts by Israeli settlers, Israel’s “extrajudicial executions,” and punitive demolitions of homes belonging to suspected attackers’ families.
Weeks earlier in New York, Abbas announced during a speech at theUnited Nations General Assembly that the Palestinian Authority would nolongercomply withprevious accords with Israel, saying that the body will not “work as employees for Israel.”
While many understood the president’s speech to be groundbreaking, no clear changes have been made in regards to security cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel in occupied Palestinian territory.
Earlier in the day Tuesday, Kerry met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem where heexpressed support for Israel’s right to “defend” itself from “terrorism” in comments that were viewed as deeply disappointing by the Palestinians.
Speaking before a meeting with Netanyahu, Kerry said: “It is very clear to us that the terrorism, these acts of terrorism which have been taking place, deserve the condemnation that they are receiving.”
Kerry made no mention of either Palestinians, theresponseby Israeli security forces, or Israel’s nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory in the comments.
Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Tuesday that Netanyahu is seeking US approval on construction inside Israel’s illegal settlement blocs in return for possible concessions in the occupied West Bank.A senior Israeli official told the newspaper that the US wanted Israel “to implement a package of meaningful measures in the West Bank,” while Netanyahu had “made it clear that we want American recognition of the settlement blocs and of the fact that we can build there.”Before meeting with Kerry, Netanyahu said the US was “a friend in our common effort to restore stability, security and peace.”