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March 19, 2013 8:45 am

Report: Kerry and Netanyahu to Meet Saturday to Discuss Peace Talks

avatar by Zach Pontz

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Photo: U.S. Senate.

U.S Secretary of State John Kerry will arrive in Israel on Saturday, following the departure of President Barack Obama, to discuss peace talks with Benjamin Netanyahu.

Kerry will initially join Obama for his trip to Israel, then head to Jordan with him on Friday before returning to Israel Saturday night. Kerry was expected to return to Israel at the beginning of April, but decided to take advantage of Obama’s visit to start discussions with Netanyahu. Kerry is also expected to meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

According to an Israeli official who spoke to Haaretz, Kerry does not believe that peace talks should resume over the next six months but that the discussions should be used to build trust and prepare for the possibility of resuming talks.

The official also said that Kerry will ask Netanyahu for his opinion on freezing construction in the settlements, releasing Palestinian prisoners and other gestures that could strengthen Abbas. At the same time, Kerry will ask Abbas to promise a halt to the unilateral moves in the United Nations and not to go to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The Israeli official added that Kerry would like to form a regional coalition with Turkey, Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf states in an effort to gather support for renewing the peace process.

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