Itongadol.- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Jerusalem on Thursday, as part of recent efforts to jump start Middle East peace talks after more than four years of stagnation.
Netanyahu to Kerry: Israel wants to renew talks with Palestinians, above all
Kerry opened the meeting by praising Netanyahu for his"seriousness" in looking at ways to return to direct Israeli-Palestiniannegotiations.
Netanyahu said that the conversation would touch on concerns about Iran and Syria, "but above all what we want to do is restart the peace talks with the Palestinians."
He added that both parties were interested in seeing the political process renewed.
Kerry travels later Thursday to Ramallah for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. This is his fourth trip to the region since embarking on a round of shuttle diplomacy aimed at restarting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
The Palestinians initially voiced pessimism about the chances of seeing direct talks resume, but of late have thrown their weight behind the U.S. secretary of state\’s efforts.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told the UN committee on rights of the Palestinian people earlier this week: "Make no mistake we are exerting every possible effort in order to see that Mr. Kerry succeeds. No one benefits more from the success of Secretary Kerry than Palestinians and no one loses more from his failure than Palestinians," Erekat said.
He said that in the past two months he has met with Kerry three times, that the secretary of state has sat with Abbas five times, and that the three have spoken by phone almost weekly.
Erekat also said the Palestinians had finished preparation to join a raft of international bodies, such as the International Criminal Court, but would not act yet in order to give Kerry and President Barack Obama "a chance" to pursue Middle East peace.
"We want to give a chance to all nations who have a common denominator of achieving two states on the 1967 lines," Erekat said. "There is a chance, there is a good opportunity now."