London, Asharq Al-Awsat—US secretary of state John Kerry is stepping up his diplomatic efforts in the Middle East in the hope of convincing the Palestinians and Israelis to return to the negotiating table.
Following Kerry’s meeting with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Amman on Friday, the US secretary of state returned to Jerusalem to resume talks with the Israeli side, in his latest round of Middle East shuttle diplomacy.
Kerry’s return to Jerusalem is his second visit to the city in less than 24 hours. He had previously held a lengthy dinner meeting with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday evening.
The US State Department said Kerry and Abbas had a “very constructive discussion” focused on advancing the peace process, and it characterized Kerry’s initial meeting with Netanyahu as a “productive, in-depth, and wide-ranging conversation.”
Kerry is in on a two-week diplomatic tour passing through the Middle East and Asia; he is seeking to coax the Palestinians and Israelis to return to direct negotiations.
He is basing his Middle East peace process revival efforts out of Amman, carrying out shuttle talks across the region in a bid to bring the Palestinians and Israelis together. The Jerusalem Post described these successive meetings with Netanyahu and Abbas as a new “formula” for renewing peace negotiations. The Israeli publication claimed that Netanyahu had already agreed to this plan, and that Abbas is now under pressure to accept.
Washington’s top diplomat also met with King Abdullah II of Jordan on the Syrian crisis, its effects on the Middle East, and the importance of renewing Palestinian–Israeli talks.
King Abdullah told Kerry that it is essential that any talks are based on the two-state solution and the full implementation of international resolutions.
The Jordanian monarch also stressed that Amman supports Palestinian–Israeli negotiations, but warned against Israeli attempts to hinder the talks, including Tel Aviv’s ongoing settlement activities.
King Abdullah II stressed that the only path to real peace and stability in the Middle East is through the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Direct negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis broke down in 2010 following a dispute over Israel’s continued settlement-building in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.