Jerusalem: US Secretary of State John Kerry is hopeful that the shaky negotiation talks between Israel and Palestine will be on track as the two sides are committed to seal a peace deal by the end of a nine-month deadline which ends in April.
"Both parties remain committed to fulfilling their obligations to stay at the table and negotiate hard during the nine-month period that we set for that," John Kerry told reporters in Tel Aviv on Friday after separate talks with Palestinian and Israeli leaders.
Kerry met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Thursday night for three hours. He also met Netanyahu in Jerusalem yesterday.
"We are not talking at this point about any shifts (in the schedule)," he said dismissing apprehensions over the success of the talks launched in July when both sides committed to a nine month period of negotiation for breaking a three-year deadlock.”
Kerry was hopeful that the two camps will accept framework accord that will touch on all the main issues such as security, future of Jerusalem, fate of refugees, and serve as a broad outline for the final deal.
"We are working on an approach that both guarantees Israel`s security and fully respects Palestinian sovereignty," the US Secretary of State said, without giving further details.
Kerry also said that "the next tranche of the (release of Palestinian) prisoners is due to take place on the 29th of December, and it will take place then."
Israel committed to release 104 Palestinian prisoners as peace talks progress, in four groups over the nine-month period. It has already released 52 in two tranches.
Kerry wanted the next batch of prisoner release to take place at the same time as the presentation of the "framework agreement", which he plans to formulate with both sides in the coming weeks.
The US top diplomat has so far made nine visits to the region since taking office in February in a relentless campaign to bridge gaps between the two sides.
"We remain hopeful that we can achieve that final-status agreement. Why? Because we are absolutely confident ... That for both sides, and the region at large, peace can bring enormous benefits," Kerry said.