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Kerry to revisit Israel in another push for peace talks


08:50, July 08, 2013

JERUSALEM, July 7 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to return to Israel in the upcoming weekend in another push for the resumption of the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Israeli media said Sunday.

This will be Kerry's sixth visit in the past three months. Two weeks ago, he left the region without any major breakthroughs in reviving the peace talks which broke off in 2010 over Israel's settlements construction in the West Bank.

An Israeli diplomatic source confirmed anonymously the report to Xinhua, saying that Israel and the Palestinians are "closer to restarting the talks" than what it appears.

"Kerry has done some major work here in his visits, and his assistants he left behind did as well. There's been some progress recently," the source added.

In his last visit, Kerry was hoping to announce a quadruple summit meeting to restart the peace talks in Jordan and to be attended by officials from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and the United States. But that did not come to be due to some existing differences.

Kerry's senior advisor of the peace process, Frank Lowenstein, stayed after Kerry's visit and spent the past week talking with officials in Jerusalem and Ramallah.

According to Al-Hayat, an Arab newspaper published in London, Kerry's recent plan includes a freeze in the construction outside of the settlement blocks (meaning lands annexed by Israel in the 1967 Mideast War, which would be used by the Palestinians in their future state), the release of 103 Palestinian prisoners within six- month time, promoting Palestinians economic projects in the West Bank lands controlled by Israel, and negotiating based on the 1967 borderlines.

The major gap between the Israelis and the Palestinians is the demand to release Palestinian prisoners, the Walla! news website reported Sunday.

The Palestinians are asking Israel to release all the prisoners at once, but Israel is reluctant to do so, as they claim there are reservations about the identity of several of them.

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