JERUSALEM, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will try to get Israel and Palestine to agree to a framework for a final peace agreement during his trip in the region starting Wednesday night.
After months of intense, secretive talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Kerry hoped that his 10th trip to the region since taking the top diplomatic job could hammer out a framework to serve as a guideline for a final peace deal.
Any agreed framework would not be a signed document but would deal with all the core issues, including the borders between Israel and future Palestine state, conflicting claims to the holy city of Jerusalem, security and Palestinian refugees.
U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Kerry hoped to narrow gaps in the two parties' positions.
"It's only a proposed framework at this point...This framework would address all the core issues," said Harf.
"Some people say this would be an interim agreement. No, that's not the case. It would address the guidelines around all the core issues that are part of the final status negotiations."
Peace talks between Israel and Palestine were restarted under the brokerage of Washington last July with a view to finalizing an agreement by the end of April this year.
"The talks have a dynamic of themselves and neither side wants to be responsible for their breaking down. Both sides walk a fine line and they want the talks to continue so as there is still that willingness they are going to continue," Professor Joshua Teitelbaum from the Bar-Ilan University told Xinhua on Wednesday.
"The sides are very far apart and what really motivates each side to negotiate is not to reach a peace agreement but to avoid being blamed for the breakdown of the talks," the professor added.
Professor Mohammed Dajani from Al-Quds University in East Jerusalem was more hopeful, saying that, "(Kerry) will be successful in doing that, I believe in his persistence to keep the course and that his success with the Iranian deal is a good indication that he is dedicated to seeking what others have given up on. I'm optimistic in the way he is handling this issue."
Dajani also believed that keeping the talks secretive is a very smart strategy as it will not give a change for those who, anyway, want to derail the peace process and undermine what so far has been achieved.
"Secrecy, like what happened with the Oslo (accords) is a must in this case and the media should be kept away for the negotiators," Dajani said,referring to the first peace agreement signed between Israelis and Palestinians nearly 20 years ago, where secret talks were also held.
"So that they won't be under public pressure, or radical pressure, so that they would abandon things or to stiffen their stand on issues that they could easily deal with," he added.
However, the flip side of keeping the talks secretive is that either side is free to act as if there is no understanding.
Israeli and Palestinian politicians on Tuesday staked out "red lines" they claimed their leaders would never cross once presented with Kerry's widely anticipated proposal for the outlines of a peace deal.
Abbas said in a televised New Year's Eve speech that he would "not hesitate for a moment to say no, regardless of the pressure, to any proposal that contradicts or sidesteps the national interests of our people."
He reiterated the Palestinian demand for a state in the lands Israel captured in 1967, with east Jerusalem as a capital, and a fair solution for Palestinian refugees.
Netanyahu said that the feasibility of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians hangs on ensuring Israel's "security and settlement interests."
"Peace will only come when our security and settlement interests get ensured," Netanyahu told a conference hosted by the Negev and Galilee Development Ministry in the northern city of Tiberias.
Netanyahu on Wednesday postponed a planned announcement of more than 1,000 new housing units in the settlements until after Kerry's visit to the region.
A senior official in Israel said Netanyahu convinced Housing Minister Uri Ariel to postpone the announcement to prevent an embarrassment to the Israeli government amid Kerry's visit which would attempt to salvage the deteriorating peace talks.
"Nobody has an intention of sticking a finger in Kerry's eye," the Ha'aretz daily quoted the official as saying. "On this matter, there is full coordination between the prime minister and the housing minister," he added.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will discuss with Israeli and Palestinian leaders a framework for permanent status negotiations during his forthcoming visit to the Middle East, the State Department said Monday.
The framework will "serves as guidelines for the permanent status negotiation and address all the core issues," spokeswoman Marie Harf said at a regular news briefing. Full story
RAMALLAH, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- Violence in the Palestinian territories, mainly in the West Bank, might escalate as a nine- month U.S.-sponsored peace process between Israel and the Palestinians is getting into its last crucial four months, observers and analysts said.
The direct peace talks between the two sides, which were resumed in late July, are scheduled to last for nine months. No significant progress has so far been achieved to bring optimism on reaching a permanent peaceful solution that ends a conflict that has been going on for decades. Full story