Secretary of State John Kerry held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday evening, March 23, after earlier discussing ways to push a new peace plan with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, U.S. and Israeli sources said.
A radio report said Netanyahu and Kerry had a first round of private talks and were then joined by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Netanyahu’s personal envoy Yitzhak Molcho and his national security adviser Yaakov Amidror.
Channel 10 News in Israel reported that Kerry is planning on offering Israel and the PA an outline which would see Israel releasing terrorists from its prisons and transferring areas from Area B, which is under joint PA-Israeli control under the Oslo Accords, to Area A which is under full PA control.
Kerry’s outline would have the PA undertaking a return to the negotiating table and promising not to file lawsuits against Israel with the International Criminal Court.
Earlier on Saturday, Kerry met Abbas in the Jordanian capital, reported AFP.
“Kerry and Abbas discussed possible steps to revive a new political process for peace,” the PA’s ambassador in Amman Attallah Kheiry told AFP.
“Abbas stressed that Israeli settlements endanger the peace process and that Israel should free Palestinian prisoners.”
Kerry accompanied President Barack Obama on a four-day visit to the region, during which the two met top Israeli and PA leaders in Jerusalem and Ramallah.
During his visit Obama did not bring to a visible breakthrough in the impasse in the peace talks.
Kerry will be Obama’s new pointman on the Middle East, as part of the renewed U.S. efforts to push the sides back to negotiations.
Abbas has continuously imposed preconditions on peace talks and has demanded that Israel freeze Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem. When Israel froze construction for a ten-month period in 2010, however, he refused to come to the table.
One unverified report in Israel on Saturday claimed that Obama and Netanyahu had reached an agreement on a “silent construction freeze,” in which Israel would not promote any new construction plans but would not officially announce that there is a freeze.