Middle East
4:39 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Kerry Leaves Jerusalem Without Much Progress On Peace Deal

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 6:03 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene. Secretary of State John Kerry spent much of last week in the Mideast, where he tried to push Israeli and Palestinian leaders towards a peace agreement. Yesterday he flew to Saudi Arabia and Jordan to update the monarchs of those countries on the progress of the talks. But as NPR's Emily Harris reports, if there has indeed been progress, it remains under wraps.

EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: Before Kerry left Jerusalem for his Sunday trip, he was asked to share one example of progress in Israeli/Palestinian peace talks. The secretary would only say that all the contentious key issues are on the table - tangled up together.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: It's a puzzle, and you can't separate out one piece or another. Because what a leader might be willing to do with respect to a compromise on one particular piece is dependent on what the other leader might be willing to do with respect to a different particular piece.

HARRIS: Here are a couple of pieces. At Israel's cabinet meeting yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted that the number of terrorist attacks against Israel in 2013 was the lowest in 10 years. But he also faulted the Palestinian Authority of encouraging hatred against Israel and its existence as a Jewish state.

Netanyahu cited this as the root problem in peace negotiations. Palestinian Authority officials say recognizing Israel as a Jewish homeland erases Palestinian history. They also warn that Israel could disrupt the peace process if it keeps building Israeli homes on land Palestinians want for a future state. Secretary Kerry said yesterday it's not clear whether all those puzzle pieces he compared this conflict to will fit together in a solution.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

KERRY: And this is a conflict that has gone on for too long, so positions are hardened. Mistrust obviously exists at a very high level.

HARRIS: At other levels, perhaps less so. Yesterday the Israeli companies developing a major offshore natural gas field announced a billion dollar, 20-year deal with the Palestinian Authority, its first export customer. Kerry returns to Washington today, but Israeli and Palestinian officials expect him back next week. Emily Harris, NPR News, Jerusalem. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.