(JERUSALEM) — Secretary of State John Kerry didn’t arrive in Israel earlier this week with high expectations, so in a sense, he couldn’t have left Tuesday too disappointed.
Following President Obama’s visit last month, the administration is hoping to jump start long-stalled peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians that might lead to a Palestinian state and more security for Israel.
However, both sides don’t appear ready to budge and Kerry acknowledged as much following talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Before departing, America’s top envoy told reporters, “This effort is not just about getting the parties back into direct negotiations. It’s about getting everybody in the best position to succeed.”
The main stumbling block remains Israel’s construction of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, with Abbas demanding that it stop before talks continue and Netanyahu insisting on talks before any discussion of suspending construction begins.
Despite all this, Kerry said he came away more optimistic after meeting with the two leaders and as a result, plans on making monthly visits to the region — a break from the administration’s previous stance that the U.S. keep its distance from the dispute.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Ivana Kottasova and Armelle De Oliveira, CNN
Steve Visser and Masoud Popalzai, CNN