Mideast Closer to Peace Than for Years, Kerry Says After Talks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are making progress and that “we are closer than we have been in years” to peace.

“There is no doubt in my mind -- we can reach an agreement that will support the peaceful and promising Palestine that the Palestinian people deserve, alongside a prosperous and more secure Israel,” Kerry said at Israel’s international airport after winding up two days of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

He gave no details to back up the comments, which contradicted assessments from Palestinian officials that talks had bogged down over Israeli settlement construction and allegations from Israel that Palestinian incitement was a hindrance to peacemaking.

The secretary of state persuaded the sides in July to return to the negotiating table after a three-year breakdown, setting a nine-month target to reach a final accord.

Kerry said he has commitments from both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to continue the negotiations.

“I believe we are closer than we have been in years to bringing about the peace and prosperity and the security that all of the people of this region deserve and yearn for,” he said.

The U.S. has conducted a “lengthy, detailed” study of both sides’ security needs, deeming that a priority for any accord leading to a two-state solution, Kerry said. The secretary spent nearly nine hours over two days with Netanyahu and met Abbas for more than three hours.

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