Kerry says US is 'evaluating' role in Middle East peace talks

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Kerry says US is 'evaluating' role in Middle East peace talks

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Clashes have taken place in the West bank between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces. The demonstrators are angry that a fourth group of Palestinian prisoners have not been released as agreed in a deal brokered by the US last year for the resumption of peace talks between both sides in the conflict.

Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the American Secretary of State John Kerry has been exerting maximum effort “to achieve a two state solution”. He stressed their appreciation for “his relentless and unwavering commitment to achieve a two state solution. But at the end of the day the decisions will have to be made by Palestinians and Israelis.” He added that the Palestinians “have come a long way” and “recognised the state of Israel’s right to exist”.

The talks, which have been taking place since last July, have been close to breaking down this week with Israelis and Palestinians blaming the other.

Speaking during a visit to Rabat the US Secretary of State, John Kerry said: “Regrettably, in the last few days both sides have taken steps that are not helpful and that’s evident to everybody. So we are going to evaluate, very carefully, exactly where this is and where it might possibly be able to go.”

Israel has said it will only release prisoners on progress made in the negotiations and on Palestinians sticking to a deal not to seek membership of international agencies.

Cabinet members also agreed they would only release the prisoners if the talks were extended past April 29, the date the US had hoped a deal would be reached.