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Kerry's meeting with Palestinian president postponed because of long talks with Netanyahu

April 01, 2014, 12:09 UTC+3 TEL-AVIV
On Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in the region on an unscheduled visit to hold urgent negotiations in Jerusalem and Ramallah on the West Bank with the Israeli and Palestinian leadership
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US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) as he greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) as he greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

© EPA/AMOS BEN GERSHOM/HANDOUT

TEL-AVIV, April 01. /ITAR-TASS/. The negotiations of US Secretary of State John Kerry with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lasted for more than three hours. Israeli state radio has reported that in this connection Kerry’s meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is planned for Tuesday. However, prior to this, Kerry intended to have another meeting with Netanyahu in the morning, the radio said.

The US Secretary of State on Monday evening arrived in the region on an unscheduled visit to hold urgent negotiations in Jerusalem and Ramallah on the West Bank with the Israeli and Palestinian leadership. Kerry will factually try to save the critically endangered peace process and try to extend the period of negotiations between the sides for several more months. The dialogue on a peace agreement that was resumed in July 2013 after an almost three-year interval was planned for nine months. However, during the past eight months, the sides have failed to make considerable progress. The threat of the final disruption of the peace process came on Friday when Israel announced the indefinite postponement of the release of the fourth group of 26 Palestinian prisoners.

Kerry is facing a difficult task to persuade the Palestinians to agree to extend the negotiations’ period, and the Israelis - to agree to release the prisoners in accordance with the agreements reached in the summer of 2013. Israel had then assumed the obligation to release in four stages 104 Palestinians that had been imprisoned for more than 20 years. The first three groups - a total of 78 people - were released in August, October and December 2013. However, starting from November, meetings of the sides’ negotiating teams had been actually frozen, and Israel, tying the Palestinians’ release with the progress of the peace process, postponed the fourth stage of the amnesty.

The content of negotiations between Kerry and Netanyahu has not been disclosed. However, sources close to Israeli government circles say that at the consultations the sides may discuss the release in the United States of American Jonathan Pollard who had been sentenced in 1987 to life imprisonment for espionage for Israel. Neither side has officially confirmed this information.

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