JERUSALEM (ABC Live): U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians is within reach by April of 2014.
Israel would release more Palestinian prisoners in two weeks as planned, Kerry said. “We’re not talking at this point about any shifts (in the scheduled deadline) and the next tranche of prisoners is due to be released on December 29 and it will take place then.”
Kerry arrived in the region on Thursday in an attempt to salvage negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, first on Thursday he met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah to persuade Abbas to accept the U.S. security- arrangements plan presented to both sides in his last visit. On Friday morning Kerry met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to Palestinian officials, the plan includes having the Israeli military deployed throughout the Jordanian border on lands of the Palestinian state for ten years, something greatly objected to by Abbas.
Palestinian officials said that Israel insists on discussing security issues and does not move on to other topics including the future Palestinian state’s borders and its sovereignty, to the Palestinians’ ire. And the Palestinians fear that other topics that are of great importance for them would be pushed aside, including the status of Jerusalem, the Palestinian sovereignty and the question of the Palestinian refugees.
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians began last July after a three-year halt in talks due to Israel’s construction in the settlement