Urgent progress is needed on Mideast peace: Kerry

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - 20:20

Kuwait City: Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday that he`s set no ad hoc deadline for making concrete progress in talks between Israel and the Palestinians but before September there needs to be some kind of progress shown.

The UN General Assembly, which reconvenes in September, voted overwhelmingly in November to upgrade the Palestinians from UN observer to non-voting member state.
The Palestinians have said that if attempts at reaching an accord between the two sides fail, they would pursue a strategy of international recognition on their own, which would make finding peace in the decades-long conflict more elusive.

Kerry spoke during a news conference with Kuwait`s emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah. Later today, he was heading to Amman, Jordan, which he will use as a base for diplomacy with Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian officials. It is Kerry`s fifth visit to the region since becoming secretary of state earlier this year.

"The time is getting near where we need to make some judgments. Last time, I was here, I said it`s time for leaders to make some hard decisions," Kerry said. "That stands. It is time. Why is it urgent? It`s urgent because time is the enemy of a peace process."

"I don`t want to trap myself or any of the principals in this with arbitrary or somewhat ad hoc time limits," Kerry said.

But he added: "Long before September we need to be showing some kind of progress in some way. That`s why I`m here for this visit and I hope it can be productive."

Kerry has been shuttling between the Israelis and the Palestinians in search of a formula to restart talks. So far, there have been no signs of a breakthrough.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is being propelled toward a stark choice that could come as soon as next week, define his legacy and set the course for his people in their conflict with Israel.

Abbas` aides fear he`s being pushed by the US into dropping his conditions for negotiating with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli settlements are at the heart of the heart of the nearly five-year impasse in Mideast peace efforts. The Palestinians say they will not negotiate while Israel continues to construct settlements in territory they seek for a future state.

PTI




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