By Julian Pecquet - 12/05/13 03:54 PM EST
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have hit a snag over provisions for Israel's security.
Secretary of State John Kerry met with leaders of the two sides on Thursday to try to rekindle negotiations that have stumbled over Israeli settlements and other issues. He is working with retired Marine Gen. John Allen on security guarantees for Israel.
“I think the interests are very similar,” Kerry told reporters after meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. “But there are questions of sovereignty, questions of respect and dignity, which are obviously significant to the Palestinians, and for the Israelis very serious questions of security and also of longer-term issues of how we end this conflict once and for all.”
Reuters reported that a Palestinian official rejected Kerry's proposals for security arrangements outright.
“The Palestinian side rejected them because they would only lead to prolonging and maintaining the occupation [of the West Bank],” the official said.
Kerry declined to get into specifics.
“We discussed at great length issues of security in the region, security for the state of Israel, security for a future Palestine,” he said. “And we, I think, made some progress in discussing some of the ideas that are on the table. We are not going to discuss these further publicly, but I will say that the goal here for everybody is a viable Palestinian state with the Palestinian people living side by side in peace with the state of Israel and with the people of Israel.”
Earlier in the day, Kerry reassured Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the administration's commitment to paving the way for a peace deal that allows Israel to defend itself on its own.
“I understand the challenge of security that Israel faces. I understand it very well,” Kerry said in a joint appearance with the Israeli leader. “And I join with President Obama in expressing to the people of Israel our deep, deep commitment to the security of Israel and to the need to find a peace that recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, recognizes Israel as a country that can defend itself by itself.”
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