Kerry to Israel, Turkey in bid to boost peace process, solidify ties
April 3rd, 2013
12:54 PM ET

Kerry to Israel, Turkey in bid to boost peace process, solidify ties

By Elise Labott

Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Israel and Turkey this weekend to try to jumpstart the long-stalled Mideast peace process and build on the two nations' efforts to repair ties, U.S. and Turkish officials said Wednesday.

Kerry moved up his Monday departure for London and then South Korea, China and Japan in order to capitalize on the reconciliation President Barack Obama brokered between Turkey and Israel during his visit to the region last month, according to the officials, who spoke on anonymity because the trip had not been announced. He will also discuss the crisis in Syria.

Obama scored a diplomatic success during his visit to Israel last month when he persuaded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to apologize to Turkey for a 2010 commando raid that killed nine activists on a Turkish vessel in a Gaza-bound flotilla.

The apology, long sought by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, eased strained feelings between the two vital U.S. allies in the Middle East.

Kerry's visit to Israel, the third in as many weeks, is part of what officials expect will be a several-month period in which Kerry tries to move the two sides toward formal peace negotiations. He is expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President

Mahmoud Abbas, seeking confidence-building measures from both sides to nudge the parties back to the table.

Officials said Kerry hopes to persuade Abbas to agree not to seek any further unilateral recognition at the United Nations, as well as offer security guarantees for the Jordan Valley, a section of the West Bank that stretches from the Israeli border with Jordan and remains under full Israeli control. Israel has long demanded security guarantees for the area, which includes Jewish settlements and Israeli military bases. In past years Israel has insisted on keeping a small force to ensure border security.

Part of Kerry's strategy, according to U.S. officials, is to leverage those gestures by Abbas into concessions from Netanyahu on the issue of settlements, which has remained one of the thorniest points of the conflict. Abbas has long demanded a complete freeze in Jewish settlement construction before returning to peace negotiations.

Officials are wary of references to the shuttle diplomacy of previous administrations that have failed to bring about a peace deal.

"We know the optics of this will raise expectations and we don't want to do that because it is going to be a slow grind," one U.S. official said. "Clearly Kerry is interested and wants to be involved in a way that Hillary (Clinton) was not. But you need to ask whether something is possible. Kerry thinks it is possible and is going to make a go of it. So we are going to balance this with the reality that these are tough issues and this is going to take a lot of time."

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  16. Soyna

    The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a number of resolutions saying that the strategic relationship with the United States encourages Israel to pursue aggressive and expansionist policies and practices.

    April 4, 2013 at 11:27 pm | Reply
  17. Joseph McCarthy

    John Kerry also needs to talk to the Turks about granting the Kurds their long and well deserved independence. The Israelis have had a home state since 1948 now it's high time for the Kurds to establish theirs, too!

    April 3, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Reply
    • BigShiz


      April 3, 2013 at 8:43 pm | Reply
      • Dianne Weaver

        Nope, not at all true.

        April 6, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
    • Alejandro Novoa

      Feel free to give them land in North America, the Turks will not surrender an inch of land to those terrorists

      April 4, 2013 at 11:45 am | Reply
      • BigShiz

        Yea there the terrorists,not the people the have murdered millions of Kurds in the last century,not the people that made it illegal to speak the Kurdish language,not the people that imprison 10 year olds and rape them,no its the Kurds a people that are not religious fanatics that just want to not be persecuted.

        April 4, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
      • Avril M.

        BigShiz: You are siding with terrorists. No need to get into detail, a terrorist is not only so when it harms your people, they don't magically become freedom fighters when it comes to others. These people do the same things your terrorists do. If you side with them, the entire world should side with Al Qaeda against Americans. Also note that Al Qaeda has not done even a portion of what PKK (Kurdish terrorists) did.

        April 6, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
    • Marek

      Kurds have a de-facto state in northern Iraq that is more than enough for the entire Kurdish population of the world, Turks do not owe them any land.

      The Kurdish situation in southeastern Turkey is almost exactly comparable to the Mexican situation in southwestern United States. When you Americans grant Mexicans their long and well deserved independence, tell the Turks so that they can follow your lead. You disgusting hypocrites with major double standards.

      April 6, 2013 at 10:57 pm | Reply
  18. John Smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    April 3, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Reply
    • Obviously

      Sadly, I can't argue with the points you've made there.

      I think, though, that this country's people are starting to wake up and the majority of them want to move away from the empire-building mentality that brought about much of what you mentioned.

      I think peace between Israel and a Palestinian state is in humanity's best interest, so in that sense I applaud any effort Kerry is willing to make.

      April 3, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Well stated, John. I fully agree.

      April 3, 2013 at 7:31 pm | Reply

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