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May 23, 2013 8:15 am

Kerry, Netanyahu Praise ‘Serious’ Efforts at Restarting Peace Talks

avatar by Zach Pontz

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem May 23, 2013. Photo: Israel GPO.

Israel and the United States raised hopes for the resumption of peace talks Thursday, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu met in Jerusalem.

Kerry praised Netanyahu and his government for their efforts so far to restart peace talks.

“There have been some very serious meetings, a lot of very serious discussions,” he said in comments made before the two held their official meeting.

“I am appreciative that the Prime Minister has really put personal energy into helping us to define some of the work that we need to do to figure out the way forward. Let me just say to everybody I know this region well enough to know that there is skepticism. In some corridors, there’s cynicism. And there are reasons for it. There have been bitter years of disappointment. It is our hope that by being methodical, careful, patient – but detailed and tenacious – that we can lay out a path ahead that could conceivably surprise people, but certainly exhaust the possibilities of peace,” Kerry added.

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Netanyahu reiterated that resuming peace talks with the Palestinian Authority was of the utmost importance and thanked Kerry for his efforts, saying, “You’ve been working at it a great deal. We’ve been working at it together. It’s something I want, it’s something you want.  It’s something I hope the Palestinians want as well and we ought to be successful for a simple reason. When there’s a will, we’ll find a way.”

The visit is Kerry’s fourth trip to the Jewish state since taking office as secretary of state in February.

Palestinian Authority officials have praised Kerry’s efforts, but said there has been little progress ahead of what they believe to be a June 7 deadline for action. They are already beginning work on a “day-after” strategy.

“We don’t have unrealistic expectations. We know the immensity of obstacles,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian Authority official. “If it doesn’t work, of course we have our own plans.”

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