Kerry heads to Israel for peace talks

Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem in the latest round of Middle East peace talks.

“The purpose of the visit is to have an in-depth discussion between the Israelis and Palestinians, following on the secretary’s meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in London last Monday,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. “They will also focus on developments in Syria.” 

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Kerry has been in Geneva since Thursday, meeting with Russian officials to negotiate a deal for Syria to give up its chemical weapons. 

He had planned to meet Netanyahu in Rome in early September but instead met with Abbas in London. Kerry has been shuttling back and forth to the Middle East since he first met with negotiators in Washington over the summer. 

Some media reports say Kerry will also meet with Abbas Sunday in Ramallah, the capital of the West Bank. 

All three parties say they want to pursue a two-state solution — a plan that has been floated for years.

Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem remain a major sticking point, however. That section of the city is largely Arab and the area Palestinians want designated as their capital in a peace deal. 

Palestinians in the West Bank have also slowed the process down with violence toward Israelis. 

Israeli airspace is closed between Friday evening and Saturday night for Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. It’s also the 40th anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. 

The peace negotiations are expected to last about nine months, with a tentative finish set for May 2014.