U.S. Says Looking For Way to Move Forward on Israel, Palestinian Peace

Israeli border policemen take up position during the funeral of a Palestinian teen, March 9. The United States has said it wants to find a solution for peace between Israel and Palestine. REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini

PARIS, March 13 – The United States is looking for a way to break the deadlock between Israel and the Palestinians, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday, acknowledging that by itself it could not find a solution.

Having twice failed to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace, the Obama administration is discussing ways to help preserve the prospect of an increasingly threatened two-state solution, U.S. officials have told Reuters.

At the same time, France is seeking support for an initiative to relaunch talks between the two sides this summer and prevent what one French diplomat has called the risk of a “powder keg” exploding.

Last year France failed to get the United States on board for a U.N. Security Council resolution to set parameters for talks between the two sides and a deadline for a deal. Since then, the stance of former foreign minister Laurent Fabius, to recognise a Palestinian state automatically if the new initiative fails, has been toned down.

“Obviously we’re all looking for a way forward. The United States and myself remain deeply committed to a two state solution. It is absolutely essential,” Kerry said when asked whether the U.S. was ready to cooperate with Paris’ efforts.

“There’s not any one country or one person who can resolve this. This is going to require the global community, it will require international support,” he said speaking alongside European foreign ministers in Paris.

A former ambassador to Washington, Pierre Vimont, is heading France’s diplomatic push and will be in Israel, the Palestinian territories and the United States this week to discuss the French initiative.

With U.S. efforts to broker a two-state solution in tatters since in April 2014 and Washington focused on this year’s election, Paris is lobbying countries to commit to a conference before May that would outline incentives and give guarantees for Israelis and Palestinians, seeking face-to-face talks before August.

“The conflict is getting worse and the status quo cannot continue,” France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said.

U.S. officials have no expectation peace talks will resume before the end of U.S. President Barack Obama’s term in January 2017 and have played down the odds of any quick decision on how the White House might help preserve a two-state solution.

“We’re talking about any number of different ways to try to change the situation on the ground in an effort to try to generate some confidence,” Kerry said. “So we are listening carefully to the French proposal.

“At the moment it’s a difficult one, because of the violence that has been taking place, and there are not many people in Israel or in the region itself right now that believe in the possibilities of peace because of those levels of violence.”

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