Kerry, Netanyahu begin talks; UN reviews ‘observer force’ doc

US Secretary of State John Kerry has started talks with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Berlin on Thursday, as a flurry of diplomatic activity kicks off in a bid to halt a wave of terrorist violence sweeping Israel.

The two leaders, who last met in New York at the end of September, are holding talks which are expected to last several hours, a US diplomat said.

Speaking immediately prior to the talks, Kerry urged an end to "all incitement."

"It is absolutely critical to end all incitement, to end all violence and to find a road forward to build the possibility, which is not there today, for a larger process," he told journalists, with Prime Minister Netanyahu next to him.

The meeting comes as another Israeli was wounded in a new knife attack west of Jerusalem, as daily Arab terrorist attacks continue.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon had said after talks with both sides that he was "not optimistic," as he appealed for calm after three weeks of deadly violence.  

"Our most urgent challenge is to stop the current wave of violence and avoid any further loss of life," he said.

Kerry, who will also meet Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas at the end of the week, "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," his spokesman John Kirby said.  

"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."

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will also host Kerry and Netanyahu separately for talks in Berlin.

In a meeting with Ban in Jerusalem on Tuesday, the Israeli PM harshly criticized Abbas for "fanning the flames" and rejected allegations that Israel has used excessive force in dealing with Palestinian terrorists and violent rioters.  

He repeated the assertion in Berlin on Wednesday, laying the blame on Abbas.

"If we want to have peace we have to stop terror. And to stop terror we have to stop incitement," he said after talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

New stabbing attack

In the latest case of violence, an Israeli was wounded in a new knife attack west of Jerusalem on Thursday before police shot and "neutralized" the two assailants, police said. One terrorist died of his wounds soon after, while the other was hospitalized in serious condition.

The male attackers had attempted to board a bus in Beit Shemesh but were prevented from doing so by passengers. They then stabbed a 25-year-old Jewish passer-by outside a synagogue close to the bus station before being fired on by officers.

Ten Israelis have been murdered in terrorist attacks since October 1 alone.

In his behind-closed-doors report to the Security Council, Ban delivered a sobering assessment of prospects for a return to calm, according to a diplomat, saying there was no time to waste to press for a de-escalation and pull the sides back from the brink.

The UN chief presented a report prepared by his legal experts on "international protection" after the Palestinians called for the deployment of an international "observer force" in Jerusalem.

The report, seen by AFP, outlines 17 cases – from Trieste after World War II to Kosovo in 1999 – when the Security Council stepped in and set up special regimes to guarantee the protection of civilians.

In a letter to the council, Ban said the report should not be seen as an "options paper" for addressing the crisis but added that it could be useful in "informing future work on this subject."

AFP contributed to this report.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *