|AMMAN: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s drive to revive Middle East
peace talks hit familiar warning signals Thursday as Israel’s prime
minister stressed security needs and a Palestinian negotiator denounced
Israeli settlement building.|
Kerry, on his fifth visit to the region, met Jordan’s King Abdullah for talks focused on both the peace process and the Syrian civil war.
He later met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and was to return to Amman for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Friday.
Israeli settlement building on occupied land Palestinians seek for a state remains a main stumbling block to the resumption of peace talks that collapsed over the issue in 2010.
Kerry’s arrival in Amman Wednesday coincided with news Israel had approved 69 new housing units in a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem, while building continues elsewhere.
“Obviously steps like this are unhelpful, but we remain hopeful that both parties will recognize the opportunity and the necessity to go back to the table,” the State Department said.
“Settlement activity in and around occupied East Jerusalem is one of the main reasons why the two-state solution is disappearing, as without East Jerusalem there will be no Palestinian state,” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said.
Netanyahu, professing his support for the creation of a Palestinian state, which he says must be demilitarized, has quietly frozen most housing starts in settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.