Kerry urges return to peace talks, easing of tensions

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday and discussed tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, the State Department said, according to AFP.

"The secretary continued to urge for calm and a decrease in violence, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric," State Department spokesman John Kirby said.

Kerry was in Jordan where he also met King Abdullah II in the southern port of Aqaba.

A palace statement said the king stressed "the need for the international community and the United States first, to end the stalemate in the peace process between Palestinians and Israelis and to move towards a two-state solution".

American diplomats said Kerry and Abdullah also discussed the Syrian conflict.

Kirby said Kerry had stressed to Abbas Washington's commitment to seeking a sustainable two-state solution "and to working with all parties to that end".

"He also reiterated our policy on the illegitimacy of Israeli settlements," Kirby said.

Kerry’s attempt at bringing the sides together for peace talks collapsed in April 2014 when the PA unilaterally applied to join international organizations in breach of the condition of the talks.

But in recent months, there has been an attempt to get the sides to resume talks, mostly in the form of an initiative by France for an international peace conference.

France, which announced the initiative late last month, has threatened to unilaterally recognize the “State of Palestine” if its peace efforts fail.

Last Thursday, the PA welcomed the French initiative, which it described as "a major possibility for challenging the status quo.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rejected the initiative, however, calling it "mystifying" and counterproductive and arguing that the proposal gives Palestinians no incentive to compromise.


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