Kerry hints at new plan for M East peace

2013-01-24 22:25

WASHINGTON, Jan 24, 2013 (AFP) -Senator John Kerry hinted Thursday he has a plan up his sleeve to rekindle the long moribund Middle East peace talks, but warned he was worried the door for a "two-state solution" may be closing.

If the opportunity is lost, it would be "disastrous," Kerry told US lawmakers meeting to confirm his nomination to be the next secretary of state.

"We need to try to find a way forward, and I happen to believe that there is a way forward," said Kerry, a decades-long veteran of successive attempts to reach an elusive deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

"But I also believe that if we can't be successful that the door, or window, or whatever you want to call it, to the possibility of a two-state solution could shut on everybody and that would be disastrous in my judgment."

He insisted however: "I have a lot of thoughts about that challenge."

Kerry refused to go public though on how he could maybe kick-start the peace process, citing concerns about harming any move to bring the notoriously prickly two sides together.

"I'm not going to say anything that prejudices our getting a negotiation going in the appropriate way and the appropriate manner, and I'm not even going to say what it is," Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations committee.

"I will say this. President Obama is deeply committed to a two-state solution."

Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been stalled for over two years, bogging down over Palestinian anger at continued Israeli settlement building.

The Palestinians have demanded that Israel halt any settlement building as a pre-condition for sitting back down at the negotiating table.

President Barack Obama's re-election to a second term, as well as the new coalition government emerging from Israel's elections on Tuesday, could spur moves to re-examine the situation.

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