Israel 'deeply disappointed' by Kerry peace talks remarks

 

Israel is “deeply disappointed” after Secretary of State John Kerry appeared to blame the nation for an impasse in peace talks, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Kerry’s remarks “will both hurt the negotiations and harden Palestinian positions,” said an official in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.

The official said Kerry “knows that it was the Palestinians who said ‘no’ to continued direct talks with Israel in November; who said ‘no’ to his proposed framework for final status talks; who said ‘no’ to even discussing recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people; who said ‘no’ to a meeting with Kerry himself; and who said ‘no’ to an extension of the talks.” 

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On Tuesday, Kerry suggested to lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Israel’s announcement of new settlements in East Jerusalem derailed the peace negotiations.

“Poof, that was sort of the moment,” said Kerry, who has shuttled back and forth to the Middle East in recent months to help mediate the talks. 

After the hearing, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki tweeted “at no point has [Kerry] engaged in a blame game.”

During the hearing, Kerry noted that both sides were responsible for taking “unhelpful” actions that led to the stalemate.

Kerry has been trying to broker a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians by April 29, but will likely miss the deadline. 

Talks appeared to collapse two weeks ago after both sides engaged in a series of provocative moves. Israel decided to not release the fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners it had agreed to let go, and announced plans for new apartments in East Jerusalem.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, took unilateral steps to try to join U.N. agencies, a move Jerusalem and Washington have long opposed.