Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to intensify their peace talks and to increase the US role, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday in a rare comment on the negotiations.
Speaking to donors who support the Palestinian Authority, Kerry said the two sides have met seven times since the talks resumed on July 29 although Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have not met.
"We have agreed now, in the last week, when I have met with both President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu, we have agreed now to intensify these talks," he said. "And we have agreed that the American participation should be increased somewhat in order to try to help facilitate."
Kerry described two tracks to the talks: one among the negotiators – Israel\’s Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Molcho and the Palestinians Saeb Erekat and Mohammed Shtayyeh – and another among Abbas, Netanyahu, Kerry and US President Barack Obama.
Speaking of the second track, Kerry said: "As we think appropriate, as we need to move the process, we will be consulting among each other and working to move this process forward."
Kerry\’s comments offered a rare glimpse at the talks, which the United States initiated but has tried to keep under wraps on the argument that public discussion makes it harder to reach an agreement to end the more than six-decade conflict.
Israelis and Palestinians had increased verbal hostility toward each other in the past week trading barbs fueled by the killing of two IDF soldiers in the West Bank by Palestinians in two separate incidents.
Israel complained to the US on Monday in the wake the killings, saying that the Palestinian Authority had failed to stop violence and incitement against it and its citizens.
The Palestinian Authority said that the killing of the soldier should not be used by Israel to avoid fulfilling its obligations toward the peace process, adding that "several Israeli violations and trespasses" would be addressed to Obama by Abbas.
Abbas pledged to Obama on Tuesday that the Palestinians will exert every effort possible to try to ensure peace talks with Israel are a success.
Obama met with Abbas on Tuesday afternoon, after telling the United Nations that one of the two greatest foreign policy priorities of his presidency is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Obama is due to meet Netanyahu next week in Washington as he tries to keep up the momentum in peace negotiations.