Kerry: Mideast has 2 years for peace

2013-04-17 22:03

Washington – US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday underlined the difficulty he will face in trying to chart a path toward Mideast peace, urging patience on the details of any two-state plan while stressing that Israel and the Palestinians might only have two years left for a deal.

He told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that he was committed to breaking a logjam, which includes nearly no Israeli-Palestinian talks in the past four-and-a-half years and no solution in sight after more than six decades of conflict.

But Kerry, who visited Jerusalem and the West Bank last week, said he sensed a "seriousness of purpose" in his meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

He said the objective now is translating that seriousness into quick action.

The former senator has put new attention on restarting the peace process after his predecessor, Hillary Rodham Clinton, did not.

"I can guarantee you that I am committed to this because I believe the window for a two-state solution is shutting," Kerry told lawmakers. "I think we have some period of time - a year to year-and-a-half to two years, or it's over."

"Everybody I talk to in the region and all of the supporters globally who care... want us to move forward on a peace effort," he added. "They're all worried about the timing here. So there's an urgency to this, in my mind, and I intend on behalf of the president's instructions to honour that urgency and see what we can do to move forward."

Time constraint

Kerry did not spell out why he believes so little time is left for an agreement, that would establish an independent Palestine existing alongside a Jewish state recognised by its neighbours.

But several factors are likely to only make peace more difficult in the coming years, including the growing numbers and political strength of Israel's settlers.

On his trip to the region last week, Kerry sought to gauge whether Israeli and Palestinian leaders were ready to make the compromises needed for any serious peace process to be restarted.

There has been little movement in recent years on questions such as final borders, security arrangements and the status of east Jerusalem, which both sides claim for their capitals.

Conscious of the failures of Democratic and Republican administrations past, Kerry has tried to avoid setting any benchmarks for progress or deadlines for steps such as the resumption of direct talks.

He told lawmakers he would not lay out a "schedule or define the process, because we're in the process of working that out with the critical parties”.

"We have to find an equation here where we can dispel these decades of distrust," Kerry said. "We're trying to undo years of failure. And I think one can. But it has got to go carefully, step by step."

Syria and Venezuela

Speaking about Syria, Kerry indicated no changes coming in the Obama administration's strategy of nonlethal assistance for rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.

Kerry, who is meeting US allies in Istanbul this weekend, noted that more countries are moving toward providing weapons but that the US was among those which "have chosen a different path of providing different kinds of assistance”.

Several US allies in Europe, notably Britain and France, are pushing for the EU to amend its arms embargo against Syria to allow weapons transfers to the rebels. The embargo will lapse unless it is renewed or modified by 30 May.

Diplomats who favour the change say no decision on actually supplying weapons to the rebels has been made but they argue that just revising the embargo to allow for the possibility will pressure Assad to step aside.

On Venezuela, Kerry refused to endorse the chosen presidential successor of the late Hugo Chavez as the winner of Sunday's close election.

Kerry was asked whether he recognised President-elect Nicolas Maduro, but the secretary of state would not say yes or no.

Kerry backed opposition candidate Henrique Capriles' call for a recount.

  • Eben Snyman - 2013-04-18 07:56

    Why on earth would they actively work for peace and prosperity ANYWHERE in the world?War is a multi billion dollar cash cow to the people that put these yahoos in their office to begin with. Report on that if you dare.

      Fidel Reloaded - 2013-04-18 08:43

      Preach Eben!

  • Fidel Reloaded - 2013-04-18 09:05

    The Palestinians need to push for full democratic and civil rights, with equality for all citizens, inside Israel, since that is where they effectively are. Israel has made a one state solution the only option. This means a state with a non-Jewish majority, no preference for any ethnic group (if democratic), and hence the end of a Jewish state. Smart Israelis that want to preserve the Jewish State should deal now, or you will see a single secular state for all. Alternatively the Israelis can confound us all by producing their map of the Israeli vision of a two state solution, the one they were supposed to have presented to the UN many moons ago!

      Konrad Bosco - 2013-04-18 13:15

      Gaza can be "given" back to Egypt,as the "west bank" can be given to Jordan.Problem is that those Arab nations also want nothing to do with the so called "palestinians". There will be no one-state solution,the "palestinians" have been offered solutions on several occasions now and rejected them,due to their wish to destroy Israel before attempting to live in peace alongside her. If there is to be a one state solution ,it will be a greater Israel without palestinians,the palestinians will all be marched over the border into Syria and Hezbollaland.Who cares what happens to them there after

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