Kerry Tells Abbas: U.S. Concerned by Surge in Violence, Settlement Activity

In meeting on sidelines of UN General Assembly, both agree to continue working to advance peace process; Netanyahu, Obama to meet Wednesday.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
New York
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a bilateral meeting at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 19, 2016.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a bilateral meeting at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 19, 2016. Credit: Darren Ornitz, Reuters
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
New York

NEW YORK – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday evening that the United States was concerned that the increasing violence on the West Bank and construction in the settlements was threatening the two-state solution.

The two met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly taking place this week, on the background of the stalemate in the peace process and assessments as to whether U.S. President Barack Obama will try to make a last stab at forcing the process along after the presidential election in November. Obama will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday but it isn’t clear whether he will also be meeting Abbas in New York.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said that Kerry and Abbas discussed ideas that could spur progress toward the two-state solution. When they met a few weeks ago in Europe, Kerry proposed the convening of a regional peace conference but the Palestinian president expressed reservations about it.

“Secretary Kerry stressed the United States’ commitment to this issue and his concern over trends on the ground, including the recent surge in violence and settlement activity,” Kirby said.

“They agreed on the importance of continuing to work with key partners to advance the prospects for peace while opposing all efforts that would undermine that goal.”

Netanyahu will be leaving Tuesday for New York, where he will address the General Assembly on Thursday. Abbas will address the assembly shortly afterward.

The Prime Minister’s Office said that when he meets with Obama Wednesday, Netanyahu will thank him personally for the defense aid agreement that was signed last week. “The Prime Minister plans to speak to Obama during their meeting about the challenges and opportunities in the Middle East and the way to advancing peace and security together,” Netanyahu’s bureau said.

While in New York, Netanyahu will meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and visit the exhibit of paintings by Hadar Goldin at the United Nations. Goldin, an IDF officer, was killed in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge two years ago and his body has yet to be returned. Netanyahu will also meet with the heads of African countries and attend a special event with them at which Israeli technologies being used in Africa will be displayed.

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