Kerry Pays 2nd Visit to Israel

Kerry Pays 2nd Visit to Israel

US Secretary of State John Kerry made his first trip to Israel in more than a year, arriving on Tuesday in the midst of a new rash of deadly attacks that have dampened hopes for peace mediation between Israel and Palestinians during the President Barack Obama administration’s final year. The visit includes no such ambitious agenda, the chief US diplomat conceded, and is primarily focused on ending the unrest.
Kerry will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials, before traveling to the West Bank for discussions with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The script is well-trodden, with Kerry likely to ask both sides to avoid provocative actions, AP reported.
Amid so much violence, Kerry said “there’s no highfalutin, grandiose, hidden agenda here.” He told reporters traveling with him in the Middle East on Monday that he sought steps “that could calm things down a little bit so people aren’t living in absolute, daily.”
Israeli fire has killed 89 Palestinians. Nineteen Israelis have also been killed, mostly in stabbings. The violence began in mid-September over tensions surrounding a sensitive Beit-ul-Moqaddas holy site, before spreading across Israel and into Palestinian territories.
Kerry has visited Israel and the Palestinian territories only once since the collapse in April 2014 of a nine-month peace process he led. He traveled back three months later during clashes between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
In recent months, Kerry and other US officials have suggested a renewed peace push might be possible. Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton took unsuccessful stabs at a two-state solution during their final months in office. But the rising death toll seems, for now, to have created an environment that makes a similar commitment by Obama unlikely.
On a visit to the West Bank on Monday, Netanyahu did not suggest he was adopting a softer approach. Israel, he vowed, would enter “villages, communities and homes” and carry out “widespread arrests.”
Abbas has provided no indication that he wants to restart direct peace talks with the Israelis anytime soon.

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