Kerry urges compromises to advance Mideast peace talks

Washington : US Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday called on the Israelis and Palestinians to make compromises so as to forward the stalled peace talks.

The fresh appeal from the top American envoy came as Israel’s security cabinet decided to suspend the negotiations in response to ongoing reconciliation efforts between rival Palestinian factions of Fatah and Hamas, Xinhua reported.

Support TwoCircles

“There’s always a way forward, but leaders have to make the compromises necessary to do that,” Kerry told reporters before meeting with Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende at the State Department.

“We may see a way forward, but if they’re not willing to make the compromises necessary, it becomes very elusive.”

Washington is trying its best to extend the negotiations that were restarted in late July last year and supposed to end by April 29 with an agreement on all the core issues like security, border, the status of Jerusalem and refugees.

The talks came to a deadlock after Israel refused to release by late March last group of 26 Palestinian prisoners as agreed, and the Palestinians responded by renewing their efforts to apply for joining 15 UN agencies and conventions.

Fatah and Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, announced a reconciliation deal Wednesday, in which they agreed to start discussions to form a unity government within five weeks, and hold elections within six months after the formation of the unity government.

The deal has drawn rebuke from Israel and the US as both have branded Hamas a terrorist organisation.

“We will never give up our hope or our commitment for the possibilities of peace,” Kerry said. “We believe it is the only way to go. But right now, obviously, it’s at a very difficult point, and the leaders themselves have to make decisions.”

Kerry spoke to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over the phone Thursday, reiterating US principles regarding a Palestinian government, namely commitment to nonviolence, recognition of the state of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements reached with Israel, State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki said.

“Our position as the United States government, outside of the peace process, has long been that any unified government would have to abide by these principles,” Psaki told reporters at a regular press briefing.

She said Kerry and Abbas also discussed ongoing efforts to extend the negotiations, and the US team led by special envoy Martin Indyk “remains on the ground” and “in close touch” with both parties.