Kerry Says Will Meet Palestinian President Abbas to Discuss Escalation

Senior official at Abbas' office denies report, says Palestinians are waiting for the results of Kerry's meeting with Netanyahu this week.

Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday he would meet Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Germany this week, after more than two weeks of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Though Netanyahu's office said on Friday that the two will meet in Berlin this week, it is the first time Kerry has confirmed media reports of a meeting with both leaders. 

Kerry did not say where he planned to meet Abbas, only that it would be in the Middle East. However, the meeting is widely expected to take place in Jordan.

"Later this week I will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu because he will be in Germany...and then I will go to the region, I will meet with President Abbas, I will meet King Abdullah and others," Kerry said during a lunch at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris.

However, a senior official in Abbas' office told Haaretz that no meeting was scheduled with Kerry, and that the Palestinians are waiting for the results of Kerry's meeting with Netanyahu. 

The Americans have heard and understood Abbas' stance, the official said, adding that it was Netanyahu who wasn't giving answers.

While in Europe Kerry said he would also hold meetings on Syria. He has been pressing Russia to agree on a political transition in Syria which would see President Bashar Assad hand over power.

His comments came as Israel and the United States resumed talks in Jerusalem on future military aid that Netanyahu suspended in protest against the Iran nuclear deal.

About 40 Palestinians and eight Israelis have died in the recent violence in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, triggered in part by Palestinians' anger over what they see as increased Jewish encroachment on Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound.

Israel says it is keeping the status quo at the holy compound, which is also revered by Jews as the location of two destroyed biblical Jewish temples.