Kerry presses Israel on settlements

Secretary of State John Kerry urged Israel to slow down settlement construction on Wednesday as he shuttled between Jerusalem and the West Bank in an effort to save faltering peace talks.

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Kerry told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that continued Israeli construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem should not be used as a pretext to cease talks. But he reiterated the U.S. position that they are “not helpful and are illegitimate.”

“That is not to say that they weren’t aware or we weren’t aware that there would be construction,” Kerry said. “But that construction, importantly, in our judgment, would be much better off limited as much as possible in an effort to help create a climate for these talks to be able to proceed effectively.”

Kerry's trip comes as the two-state solution talks he helped kick-start three months ago have already begun to stall. President Obama has given his secretary of State nine months to try to get to an agreement.

Kerry also met with Israeli leaders on Wednesday. He predicted there would only be “chaos, violence, turmoil, confrontation, in the absence of peace.”

“I am convinced from my conversations today with Prime Minister Netanyahu as well as with President Abbas that this is not mission impossible; this can happen,” Kerry said before meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres. “It will require both leaders to make big, historic, difficult decisions.”

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