“It’s not going to be done, and should not be done, in piecemeal public releases,” Kerry said. “That would do everybody a disservice. You cannot take one component of this and say, ‘This is what’s being worked on,’ and then pretend you’re going to adequately meet the needs of anybody.”
Kerry’s visit was his third to the Middle East since he became the chief U.S. diplomat in February. He has seized on the peace issue as a priority for his tenure and for President Obama’s second term. He faces long odds.
Netanyahu is considered hostile to negotiations despite public assurances that he would talk under the right conditions. Most Israelis continue to say they favor a deal to finally settle the Palestinian question more than six decades after Israel’s founding and after nearly 50 years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank.
Abbas angered the Obama administration by pressing a claim for statehood recognition at the United Nations over the objections of the United States and Israel. The United States maintains that a Palestinian state should result only from negotiation with Israel.
Abbas won the U.N. vote handily and is considering filing a complaint with the International Criminal Court over Israeli home-building on land the Palestinians claim in Jerusalem. Although the Palestinians agreed to shelve that idea for now, it hangs over the new peace effort. Abbas could revive it if he thinks talks are doomed.
Foremost for Israel, Netanyahu said Tuesday, are questions of security and the recognition of the nation as a legitimate state.
“This is a real effort, and we look forward to advancing in this effort with you,” he added.
Jobs, construction and tourism for the West Bank, all compromised by Israeli security control, were also agenda items for failed U.S.-backed peace negotiations in 2007 and 2008.
The idea then and now is to strengthen the moderate Palestinian Authority’s economic and political standing, build cooperation with Israel and improve the climate for practical negotiations about borders and trade in the region’s tight quarters.
Kerry stressed that economic improvements are a component of the new discussion but not a substitute for what he has described as the hard political concessions that creating a Palestinian state would require.
“The president has not sent me here to propose or impose an American plan or to dictate to anybody the way forward,” Kerry said. “We believe very deeply that it is our duty to give every effort we can to this.”