Kerry: Palestinian-Israeli peace talks "intensifying"
US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that talks between Israel and the Palestinians were intensifying and that all issues were on the table.
Kerry, speaking after talks with Arab League representatives in Paris, said that the Palestinian and Israeli negotiators have so far held 13 meetings, including three in the last four days alone, Agence France Presse reported.
"The pace has intensified, all the core issues are on the table and they have been meeting with increased intensity," Kerry told journalists at a joint press conference with Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled Al Attiyah, according to AFP.
Since his appointment as secretary of state in February, Kerry has put a lot of energy into restarting the peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis, which halted in September 2010 over Israel's continuted settlement activity.
Following intense diplomacy from the US, the two sides resumed the peace talks in Washington at the end of July.
"It is no secret to anybody that this is and remains a difficult process, there is no shortage of passionate skeptics," Kerry said, AFP reported.
"The Israeli and Palestinian people both have leaders who absolutely understand what is at stake and they have taken risks to bring both parties to the table."
On the Arab League's role in the talks, AFP reported that Kerry praised the group's "remarkable commitment" to furthering the peace process, adding that it is "critical to creating the momentum and the seriousness of purpose that is essential in order to be successful in these talks."
For his part, Attiyah said the Arab League was "concerned about the environment" surrounding the peace negotations, singling out the expansion of Israeli settlements and the continued isolation of the Gaza strip, AFP added.
"We talked about the issue of Gaza and the futility of isolating Gaza," he said.
"There must be a way to open the crossing points to all parties to enable the people in Gaza to live."
Kerry is to meet later this week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Rome to discuss the peace talks, according to AFP.
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