U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday he believes Middle East peace talks can be relaunched, a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was ready to resume direct talks with the Palestinians.
“I believe there is a chance and I think it is imperative we have not lost sight of that issue,” Kerry said in an interview with MSNBC.
Relations between the United States and its closest ally in the Middle East have been strained since the last set of direct talks collapsed in April 2014 amid bitter recriminations.
Adding to the discord has been Netanyahu’s vehement opposition to an international agreement aimed at limiting Iran’s nuclear program, which President Barack Obama has championed.
But on Tuesday, Netanyahu said he was ready to begin direct talks immediately with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas without conditions.
Noting Netanyahu’s comments, Kerry voiced hope that there will be a way forward, but added: “Let’s wait and see what happens. I think we have to get through the next weeks before we start talking about the rest of the agenda.”
Through Kerry’s efforts, the sides resumed direct talks in July 2013, but they broke down in April 2014 after a deadline for an agreement ran out.
Washington has pushed direct Israeli-Palestinian talks as the way to reach a two-state solution to the conflict, while opposing Palestinian moves at the United Nations to gain international recognition of a Palestinian state.