Palestinian negotiator to Kerry: Save peace talks

The senior Palestinian negotiator involved in rekindled peace talks with Israel pressed Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday to save the negotiations. 

“Mr. Kerry must work to save the talks, to work to stop the deterioration of the talks caused by Israel's continuing settlement activity and crimes committed in cold blood," Saeb Erekat said on Palestinian radio, according to Reuters.

Kerry will travel from Moldova to Israel to continue negotiations on Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

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Both sides have warned the talks are crumbling. Israel’s projects to expand settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, for example, have upset Palestinians. 

Israel’s latest plans to build additional settlement homes, however, have been halted. Over the weekend, the Israeli government reassured the Obama administration and Abbas’s office that plans for 24,000 new housing units in the West Bank were frozen two weeks ago.

Since Kerry reinvigorated peace negotiations in July, 16 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed, according to Reuters.

The interim nuclear deal with Iran has also angered the Israeli government, and interrupted the peace talks.

Overall, the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators remain divided on the same issues that have stalled talks previously: borders, Palestinian refugees, security and Jerusalem’s status.

The last direct negotiations meeting between Israelis and Palestinians, Erekat noted, was on Nov. 5. Kerry has since been working with each side separately.

U.S. diplomats may soon unveil a “bridging proposal” that would unite the two sides, Reuters reports. Erekat said Wednesday he doubts that would occur on Thursday.