John Kerry left the Jewish state late today after adding extra days to his time in the Middle East, in an aim to continue talks in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
The US secretary of state flew to Saudi Arabia Sunday after landing in Israel Thursday, and returned to the Jewish state to promote negotiations. He subsequently added several more days to his trip than was planned, but left Monday without an official framework agreement.
“I am confident that the talks we’ve had in the last two days have already fleshed out and even resolved certain kinds of issues and presented new opportunities for others,” Kerry said Saturday night in Ramallah, following a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
“That’s the name of this game. It’s a tough process, step by step, day by day.”
Kerry met three times each with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from Thursday to Sunday, in what marked his 10th trip to Israel since taking the state department post in early 2013.
“[Netanyahu and Abbas] have remained absolutely steadfast to this effort and committed to the notion that two peoples living side by side in peace and security is a goal worth fighting for, and that the progress being made is sufficient to encourage people to keep going,” Kerry added.
“So that’s exactly what we’re going to do, and I think over the next week we have some very serious homework – all of us – to do.”
Kerry’s exit from the Middle East came as Israel announced plans for 272 housing units to be built in two West Bank settlements, a decision that is sure to riffle feathers on the Palestinian side.