Kerry urges Israel to 'look hard' at peace initiative
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that Israelis and Palestinians are getting closer to resuming peace talks, and urged Israel to “look hard” at the 2002 Arab League peace initiative that it rejected in the past.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Israel on Wednesday to “look hard” at the 2002 Arab League peace initiative that it rejected in the past, adding that Israelis and Palestinians are getting closer to resuming peace talks.
“Israel needs to look hard at this initiative, which promises Israel peace with 22 Arab nations and 35 Muslim nations – a total of 57 nations that are standing and waiting for the possibility of making peace with Israel,” he said in Amman, Jordan, where he met officials from Arab League member countries.
The plan, put forward by Saudi Arabia at an Arab League summit in Beirut in 2002, offered full recognition of Israel but only if it gave up all land seized in the 1967 Middle East war and agreed to a “just solution” for Palestinian refugees. Softening the plan three months ago, a top Qatari official raised the possibility of land swaps in setting future Israeli-Palestinian borders.
According to the AFP, Kerry told reporters that peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians were getting closer to resuming.
“Through hard and deliberate work, we have been able to narrow those gaps very significantly,” he said.
“We continue to get closer and I continue to be hopeful that the two sides will come to sit at the same table,” he added, after talks in Jordan with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Arab envoys.
Kerry, who spent hours locked in marathon meetings with both Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his last visit late last month, declined to go into details on the substance of the talks.
“There is still some language that needs to be worked out,” he said.
“I would caution everybody to resist the temptation to speculate. The easiest bet has always been on predicting impasse.”
(FRANCE 24 with wires)