Kerry Hopes Talks will Result in ‘Breathing Space’

Secretary of State John Kerry hopes talks this week with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders will provide some "political breathing space" amid renewed unrest, his spokesman said Wednesday, according to AFP.

Kerry will meet Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Berlin on Thursday and Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Amman at the weekend, spokesman John Kirby said.

"The secretary feels it's important to go and to have these discussions, given the ongoing violence, to try to look for ways to end that violence and to restore calm," he added.

"As well as to provide some political breathing space, so that real, meaningful progress can be made towards — towards an end to the violence."

Asked what such a breathing space might look like, Kirby said, "Just enough of a sense of calm, trying to arise at some level of agreement that can foster more security and more stability."

Recent reports indicated that in his upcoming meetings with Netanyahu and Abbas, Kerry intends to “upgrade and clarify” the understandings reached by Israel and Jordan last year on the Temple Mount status quo in an effort to quell the current wave of violence.

The State Department spokesman on Wednesday repeated Kerry's calls for both sides to avoid inciting unrest, but refused to condemn Netanyahu's comments regarding the Jerusalem Mufti’s involvement in the Nazi Holocaust, which had caused an uproar earlier on Wednesday.

Kirby would not join the global chorus of outrage and derision inspired by Netanyahu's allegation, which flew in the face of accepted history and was dismissed by the German government.

"We've seen the press reports of the prime minister's comments," he said, according to AFP. "And in those reports you can see for yourself the scholarly evidence, obviously, supports a different position."


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