After a rush of last-minute talks with Palestinian officials, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sealed a step toward relaunching the Mideast peace process, announcing Friday that Israel and the Palestinians had agreed on a basis for returning to negotiations.
The statement, which came in a press conference after a day in which Kerry shuttled between the Jordanian capital and the West Bank, reflected how painstakingly incremental movement in the process is. While it appeared deep differences over the groundwork of talks had been bridged, the two sides are to meet — likely in the coming week — to work out final details on actually resuming their negotiations on the toughest issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Up to the last minute, the Palestinians had been reluctant to sign on to Kerry’s formula for returning to the table with the Israelis, five years after talks broke down.
Kerry had extended talks Friday morning with top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in Amman, then spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Kerry then flew by hel-icopter to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.