March 8, 2014
Kerry says Israeli-Palestinian deal possible by end April
Shrugging off gloomy predictions of failure, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that Israelis and Palestinians remained committed to peace talks and were on course to wrap up a full deal by April.
Speaking at the end of his second visit to the region in just a week, Kerry said the two sides were discussing a framework for a final-status accord to resolve the core issues at the heart of the decades-old conflict.
"Both parties remain committed to fulfilling their obligations to stay at the table and negotiate hard during the nine-month period that we set for that," Kerry told reporters after separate talks with Palestinian and Israeli leaders.
"We're not talking at this point about any shifts (in the schedule)," he said, dismissing bleak assessments from both sides on progress in the US-brokered negotiations, which resumed in July after a three-year pause.
The US top diplomat wants the two camps to accept a so-called framework accord that will touch on all the main issues, such as security, the future of Jerusalem and the fate of refugees, and serve as a broad outline for the final deal.
Palestinians fear such a preliminary agreement could serve to delay once again their hopes of establishing an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem - land the Israelis seized in the 1967 war.
Kerry said his talks over the past two days, played out against a backdrop of fierce winter snow storms, had focused on security, with retired US General John Allen joining him for the discussions with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.