Kerry in Riyadh pushes PA-Israel talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry has met with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz over talks between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel.

“I want to thank his majesty for… his enthusiastic support for the efforts that are being made with respect to the peace process,” Kerry told reporters on Sunday after meeting with Abdullah at a palace outside the capital Riyadh.

“Today, his majesty was not just encouraging but supported our efforts in hopes that we can be successful in the days ahead,” he added.

Kerry said he had already won the Saudi support for his efforts to negotiate a so-called peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority.

In July last year, Kerry restarted the direct talks after a three-year hiatus. But the negotiations are already mired due to an exchange of accusations between Israeli and Palestinian officials in recent days.

Acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to take diplomatic and legal action against the “cancer” of Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

In a speech on December 31 in the West Bank city of Ramallah to mark the 49th anniversary of the founding of the Fatah movement, Abbas said that Palestine will use its rights as a UN observer to stop Israel’s expansionist agenda.

“We will not remain patient as the settlement cancer spreads, especially in Jerusalem (al-Quds), and we will use our right as a UN observer state by taking political, diplomatic and legal action to stop it,” he said.

“We have entered negotiations amid Israeli escalation on all fronts — the Israeli army steps up its hostilities against the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank, leading to the killing of dozens of citizens in the last few months,” Abbas added.

On December 29, a panel of Israeli cabinet ministers approved new legislation to annex the Jordan Valley region of the occupied West Bank.

In his speech, Abbas completely rejected Israel’s demand to maintain a military presence in the Jordan Valley.

Israel occupied and then annexed the West Bank and East al-Quds in the Six-Day War of 1967, but the move has never been recognized by the international community.

By The Associated Press


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