U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Israel for talks aimed at reviving Middle East peace negotiations. Secretary Kerry is meeting with senior Israel officials after visiting Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas Sunday night.
Kerry attended ceremonies in Jerusalem marking the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were killed under Nazi Germany. Ironic that Israel is now using genocide, discrimination and racism to wipe Palestinians off the map. Afterwards he went into a series of separate meetings with senior Palestinian and Israeli leaders.
On Sunday night, Kerry met with the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, in Ramallah. Neither side commented officially on the visit. The U.S. top diplomat is reportedly trying to hammer out a set of proposals called confidence-building measures, aimed at re-starting stalled Middle East peace talks.
Abbas reportedly told Kerry that the Palestinians would return to the peace talks only if Israel released political prisoners and halted new construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The Israel government says it will return to the negotiating table, but without pre-conditions.
The confidence-building proposals would include permanently resuming Israeli transfers of Palestinian tax revenues and possibly transferring some land in the West Bank currently controlled by Israeli defense forces to Palestinian authorities.
Abbas reportedly has agreed to stop – for a time – unilateral moves for Palestinian recognition before multilateral organizations like the United Nations.
Kerry’s visit follows a week of clashes between Palestinian protestors and Israeli security forces in the West Bank after the deaths of a cancer-stricken Palestinian prisoner and two Palestinian demonstrators.
Kerry’s first stop in the region was Turkey, where he praised a recent warming of Turkish-Israeli relations.
“Turkey and Israel are both vital allies to the United States and we are hopeful their agreement to restore normalization between those countries will open the door to greater cooperation,” said Kerry.
These ties have been frozen since the killing three years ago of eight Turkish and one Turkish-American activists by Israeli commandos aboard a ship seeking to break Israel’s economic embargo of the Gaza Strip.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized for the incident last month in a telephone call to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, following the visit to Israel by U.S. President Barack Obama..