Secretary John Kerry continues his visit to the Middle East. Efforts to engage Israeli and Palestinian parties in the peace talks suffered setbacks. Kerry urged both sides to come to terms, stating that Israel was in need of continuous security and peace while Palestinians deserve a state of their own.
Both Israeli and Palestinian leaders lashed out at each other in return. Netanyahu claimed that the Palestinians were disrupting the peace process by creating “artificial crises, continuing to avoid and run away from the historic decisions that are needed to make a genuine peace.” Palestinians, in turn, accused Israel of continuing construction of thousands of Israeli settlement units in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Israelis stated that Palestinians had actually agreed to Israel’s construction in return for release of Palestinian prisoners.
After his visit to Jerusalem, Secretary of State stopped in Bethlehem and announced $75 million in aid for the Palestinian Authority’s High Impact Micro-Infrastructure Initiative, topping U.S. contribution to $100 million. Germany has also committed to contribute $10 million for the projects of the initiative in the West Bank. The contributions will yield more work, create jobs and finance infrastructure projects in the West Bank.
Kerry stated that “as in any negotiation there will be moments of up and moments of down, and it goes back and forth… But I can tell you that President Obama and I are determined, and neither of us will stop in our efforts to pursue the possibility (of peace).”