The renewed Israeli-Palestinian negotiations may be approaching their final destination one way or another, according to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
“The time is soon arriving when leaders will have to make difficult decisions. We are close to that time, if not at it,” Kerry told reporters at a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Jan. 2.
Kerry traveled to Israel to meet with Netanyahu and determine if Israel can continue “bridging the gaps” with the Palestinians, a State Department spokesman said.
Though there has been a steady stream of dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians since peace negotiations were kick-started in the summer of 2013, there have been few official moves or announcements of progress made beyond Israel’s decision to release 104 Palestinian prisoners in four installments and the Palestinians refraining from seeking an upgrade in status with the U.N. or other international entities.
But after several months of discussions behind closed doors, Kerry’s latest comments hinted at the possibility that time was running out for peace.
While Kerry continued to air optimism by saying that agreeing on a peace deal was not “mission impossible,” Netanyahu was less optimistic about nearing a solution.
“Instead of preparing their people for peace, Palestinian leaders are inciting their people against Israel,” Netanyahu said at the news conference.
The Israeli prime minister emphasized the need for Palestinian heads to officially recognize Israel as a Jewish state and called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to “reject terror and embrace peace.”
Netanyahu’s sharp rhetoric followed an initial condemnation of the Palestinian leadership that began after Israel’s latest release of Palestinian prisoners .
"While we take very painful steps to try and reach an agreement, the P.A. are celebrating,” Netanyahu wrote on his Twitter account on Dec. 31, referring to the Palestian Authority. “Murderers are not heroes. This is not how one educates for peace.”
To watch the news conference, click on the video icon at the top right of the screen.