Kerry in Israel for new round of Mideast talks
by Deb Riechmann, Associated Press
January 02, 2014 12:00 PM | 570 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu give their joint statement at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, Israel, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013. Kerry is visiting Jerusalem and Ramallah to have the Israeli-Palestinian peace talk and to consult Israeli officials about Iran. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool)
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu give their joint statement at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, Israel, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013. Kerry is visiting Jerusalem and Ramallah to have the Israeli-Palestinian peace talk and to consult Israeli officials about Iran. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool)
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TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry says that finding peace between Israel and the Palestinians is not "mission impossible."

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (neh-ten-YAH'-hoo) is slamming the Palestinian leader as someone who embraces terrorists "as heroes."

Kerry's in Israel to broker Mideast peace talks that are entering a difficult phase aimed at creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel. He's asking both leaders to make tough, highly charged political decisions.

Kerry said Thursday that parties in the ongoing talks have always known it will be a difficult road to peace, but — quote — "this is not mission impossible."

Netanyahu is criticizing the actions of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (mahk-MOOD' ah-BAHS'), saying Abbas embraced terrorists as heroes when he welcomed Palestinian prisoners' release from Israeli detention.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived Thursday in Israel to broker Mideast peace talks that are entering a difficult phase aimed at reaching a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Kerry had talks scheduled Thursday in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On Friday, he'll be in the West Bank to talk with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Kerry is asking both leaders to make tough, highly charged political decisions that would yield the contours of an eventual peace treaty, creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Netanyahu is likely to be asked to accept — with some modifications — the borderlines that existed in 1967 before Israel captured Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Abbas fears being asked to recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people and give up the so-called "right of return" for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled or were expelled in the war over Israel's creation in 1948.

Negotiators from both sides have had some 20 rounds of talks since summer and this is Kerry's 10th trip to the region to help craft a final peace accord. Just four months remain until a U.S.-set target date for a final agreement.

Underlying the ongoing impasse is the lack of agreement on ground rules. Kerry hopes progress will be possible once the two sides agree on the outlines of a deal.

Kerry has kept his ideas for a framework under wraps, but has said the contours of a deal are known after two decades of intermittent negotiations.



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