Kerry to meet Israeli, Palestinian negotiators in Washington

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 20, 2014 2:00 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Israeli negotiators in Washington on Monday and Palestinian officials later next week in U.S.-brokered peace talks to end their decades-long conflict, the State Department said.

Kerry and U.S. negotiator Martin Indyk will meet with Israeli justice minister Tzipi Livni and envoy Itzik Molho later on Monday "to continue the discussion on a framework for negotiations," the State Department said in a statement.

Meetings between Indyk and Livni, who heads the Israeli negotiating team, will continue on Tuesday when Kerry travels to Switzerland for a Syria peace conference.

"We expect the Palestinian negotiating team to travel to Washington early next week," the State Department said.

Israeli-Palestinian negotiations resumed in July after a three-year halt, with Kerry leading the push for an accord within nine months. But both Israeli and Palestinians have expressed doubts about his efforts.

Palestinians see a major obstacle in Israel's settlements of the occupied West Bank where they seek statehood. Many Israelis doubt Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's credibility as a peace partner, especially as Gaza, the other Palestinian territory, is governed by rival Hamas Islamists who oppose peacemaking.

While details of the talks have been kept secret, Kerry has often said progress is being made in the talks. But both Israel and the Palestinians have predicted the nine-month target date for a deal will not be met.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton)