Kerry and Netanyahu Discuss Peace Talks, Despite Row Over Boycotts Jibe

Senior U.S. officials said that the conversation focused mostly on contacts to consolidate a framework agreement which would enable the Palestinians and Israelis to return to the negotiating table.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone on Sunday evening, hours after the latter and other senior Israeli officials spoke out against U.S. implications that Israel would face increased boycotts should peace talks fail.

Senior U.S. officials said that the conversation focused mostly on contacts to consolidate a framework agreement which would enable the Palestinians and Israelis to return to the negotiating table. Kerry met with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and negotiator Isaac Molho earlier in the day in Munich to discuss the framework deal.

The U.S. State Department responded harshly to the criticism from senior Israeli officials including Netanyahu, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz.

"Secretary Kerry has a proud record of over three decades of steadfast support for Israel's security and well-being, including staunch opposition to boycotts," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

"Just last year, while briefing Foreign Ministers at an EU conference in Vilnius on his peacemaking efforts, he urged them to refrain from implementing these types of measures," Psaki said.

Kerry, at a Munich security forum on Saturday, mentioned "talk of boycotts" if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict did not end.

"Are we all going to be better with all of that?" asked Kerry, who is seeking to seal a framework agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.

"For Israel, the stakes are also enormously high," he said. "Do they want a failure that then begs whatever may come in the form of a response from disappointed Palestinians and the Arab community?"

Reuters