Kerry to U.S. Jewish Leaders: Israeli-Palestinian Peace a 'Strategic Imperative'

U.S. State Secretary asks American Jews to endorse negotiations between Israel and Palestinians.

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Adviser Susan Rice briefed Jewish leaders on resumed Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.

The meeting Thursday evening in the White House lasted 90 minutes, participants said, and was characterized mostly by Kerry’s enthusiasm for the resumed talks, and the serious commitment he said saw from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Kerry appeared bullish about talks he has worked assiduously to revive since becoming secretary of state in February, but also nervous about the potential for failure, warning of circumstances - for instance, pressures on Netanyahu - that could undermine the talks.

He repeated his appeal to American Jews to endorse and support the peace process, first made in early June when he addressed the American Jewish Committee.

Kerry said there was a “strategic imperative” to arrive at a deal soon, and said he understood the difficulties Netanyahu faced in dealing with a coalition that included hard right parties and figures.

Kerry expressed frustration with the European Union for its new policy of not giving its grants and prizes to Israeli enterprises in occupied areas, saying it was the sort of move that could nudge away Netanyahu.

Present at the meeting, which was off the record, were leaders from the Conservative movement, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, J Street, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, the Conservative movement, the Orthodox Union, American Friends of Lubavitch, B’nai B’rith International, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Jewish Federations of North America, Hadassah, the National Jewish Democratic Council, the National Council of Jewish Women and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Kerry and Rice had top aides at their side, including Martin Indyk, recently named the top Middle East peace negotiator. Kerry is planning on holding a similar meeting on Friday with representatives of Arab American groups.

Kerry and Indyk at the State Department in Washington.Credit: Reuters

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