Kerry praises Netanyahu’s ‘seriousness’ on peace

JERUSALEM (JTA) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry praised Benjamin Netanyahu for his “seriousness” in finding ways to restart the peace process, in statements before a meeting in Jerusalem.

Kerry held a two-hour meeting Thursday in Jerusalem with the Israeli prime minister, joined by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Israel’s chief negotiator with the Palestinians.

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Kerry was scheduled to meet later Thursday in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

“There have been some very serious meetings, a lot of very serious discussions,” about restarting the Israel-Palestinian peace process, Kerry said before his meeting with Netanyahu, which lasted two hours. “I know this region well enough to know that there is skepticism. In some corridors, there’s cynicism. And there are reasons for it. There have been bitter years of disappointment. It is our hope that by being methodical, careful, patient – but detailed and tenacious – that we can lay out a path ahead that could conceivably surprise people, but certainly exhaust the possibilities of peace.”

Kerry and Netanyahu also were scheduled to discuss the situation in Syria as well as Iran.

On Syria, Kerry said that the Obama administration ” also understand that the killing that is taking place, the massacres that are taking place, the incredible destabilization of Syria, is spilling over into Lebanon, into Jordan, and has an impact, obviously, on Israel.”

He added that long range missiles coming from other countries, such as Iran, “are destabilizing to the region. The United States is committed not only in its defense of Israel, but in its concerns for the region, to try to address this issue.”

This is Kerry’s fourth visit to Israel in an effort to restart peace talks since taking office in February.