Kerry Says Israel Can Act on Settlements to Revive Talks

Israel’s government can take action over Jewish settlements on the West Bank to help meet Palestinian concerns that are an obstacle to reviving peace talks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.

“The government has an ability to make a difference here in the next months,” Kerry told reporters at a press conference in Tel Aviv today. “It is my hope that they will.”

He was addressing efforts by Israeli authorities to legalize four unsanctioned Jewish settlement outposts in the West Bank, highlighted by Peace Now last week. The Israeli activist group cited documents from a court case over the outposts that showed the government is examining legal arrangements for the buildings.

Palestinians have refused to restart talks, which broke down more than two years ago, unless Israel freezes the construction of settlements in occupied territories. Kerry, speaking after two days of talks with leaders from both sides, said today that there’s no “artificial” timetable for a resumption, though he added that leaders must soon make “hard decisions.”

The top U.S. diplomat criticized the election in Iran, where more than 600 would-be candidates for the June 14 presidential vote were excluded by the Guardian Council, after they were vetted for commitment to the Islamic republic.

The process makes it “highly unlikely” that candidates will represent change or a fair choice, Kerry said. He also noted complaints by the International Atomic Energy Agency over lack of access to Iranian nuclear sites, saying the issue is “very very much on our radar screen.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Ben Holland in Istanbul at bholland1@bloomberg.net; Indira A.R. Lakshmanan in Washington at ilakshmanan@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Walcott at jwalcott9@bloomberg.net

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