Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the new U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday that Israel's new government will be "committed to peace."
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President Shimon Peres officially tasked Netanyahu with forming Israel's next governing coalition on Saturday.
The prime minister, who spoke by telephone with Kerry on Sunday afternoon, told the newly-appointed secretary of state that his new government wants to push for a "sober and responsible" peace process with the Palestinians.
Kerry also spoke with President Shimon Peres on Saturday night, who told him that the results of Israel’s elections could make possible a coalition that would advance the peace process.
Kerry, who was sworn in on Friday, phoned Peres – one of the first foreign leaders he spoke to in his new position. Kerry also spoke to the foreign ministers of Mexico, Canada and Turkey.
Kerry phoned the president just after 7 P.M. on Saturday. The two talked for about 30 minutes, just before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived at the Presidential Residence for Peres to officially task him with forming Israel's new government.
Kerry asked Peres to keep him informed of the coalition-forming process. According to a source in the Presidential Residence, Peres explained the various possibilities for a new coalition.
“The results of the elections in Israel have created a new situation and opportunities that were not there before,” Peres, who has known and been friends with Kerry for many years, told the new secretary of state. The president also added that the new coalition will have the ability to open new doors when it comes to domestic issues that couldn’t move ahead before, and in the renewal of the peace process.
Kerry, who will be arriving in Israel in mid-February, and will also be visiting the PA and Egypt at that time, is expected to meet with Peres as well as with Netanyahu.
On Sunday Kerry called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. According to a statement by Abbas’ bureau, Kerry told Abbas that President Barack Obama attaches great importance to the Middle East peace process and that the U.S. administration is very aware of the economic difficulties the PA faces. Kerry also told Abbas he would like to meet with him face to face as soon as possible to discuss ways of preserving the peace process.