U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Villa Taverna in Rome October 23, 2013. Photo by Reuters
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will not come to Israel Friday, despite statements made to this effect by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the government meeting Sunday.

A senior Israeli official said Kerry told Israel Monday that he is postponing his visit, saying that he will only arrive after the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. The reason behind the postponement was unclear.

Senior American officials said that despite what Netanyahu had said, the date of Kerry's visit had yet to be finalized. Senior Israeli officials told Haaretz that they believed the reason behind the decision was his desire to focus on the negotiations with Iran, which will resume in Geneva on Wednesday, and to avoid getting into another confrontation with Netayahu during the talks.

At a press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu Monday, Kerry said he had great respect for Netanyahu and his concerns regarding a potential deal between world powers and Iran concerning the latter's nuclear program. But Kerry maintained that instead of making Israel less safe, an accord with Iran would actually reduce the country's risk.

"I have great respect for his concerns about his country," Kerry said. "The prime minister should express his concerns and he has every right in the world to publicly state his position and defend what he believes is his interest."

He stressed that the United States is deeply committed to Israel's security and sought to reassure Netanyahu, ordinary Israelis and pro-Israel members of Congress who are opposed to the proposed agreement.

"Nothing that we are doing here, in my judgment, will put Israel at any additional risk," Kerry said. "In fact, let me make this clear, we believe it reduces risk."

Since word emerged earlier this month that an agreement with Iran may be close, Netanyahu has led a very public campaign to oppose it. He has called the deal bad for Israel and a gift to Iran. The deal could ease some sanctions against Iran but would not require it to give up all uranium enrichment and not immediately halting work on a plutonium facility.

Since word emerged earlier this month that an agreement with Iran may be close, Netanyahu has led a very public campaign to oppose it. He has called the deal bad for Israel and a gift to Iran. The deal could ease some sanctions against Iran but would not require it to give up all uranium enrichment and not immediately halting work on a plutonium facility.

Negotiators are to meet again later this week in Geneva in hopes of concluding a deal but Kerry declined to predict if they would reach an agreement.

"I have no specific expectations with respect to the negotiations in Geneva except that we will negotiate in good faith and we will try to get a first-step agreement and hope that Iran will understand the importance of coming there prepared to create a document that can prove to the world that this is a peaceful program," he said.

With reporting by the Associated Press.