US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Tel Aviv on Tuesday night, where he attended a wreath-laying ceremony commemorating prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination on November 4, 1995, ahead of a string of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials.
“I can promise you that America will stand by the side of Israel every step of the way,” Kerry said at the ceremony at Rabin Square.
A very small but vocal group of protesters heckled the secretary of state as he laid a wreath at the memorial, chanting, “Don’t free terrorists” — referencing the four-phased agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to release 104 Palestinian prisoners who committed their crimes before the 1993 Oslo Accords were signed. Israel released a second batch of 26 prisoners last week.
“I come here without any illusions about the difficulties but I come here determined to work with the leaders … To try to find a way forward so that Israel can live the dream that (Rabin) pressed so eloquently and beautifully on the tragedy of that day,” Kerry said.
On Wednesday, Kerry is due to meet separately with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. He will then meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem before returning to Jerusalem to meet with Netanyahu once more.
Kerry arrived in Israel Tuesday after visiting Cairo, Warsaw and Riyadh and meeting with top officials to discuss bilateral ties.
— USEmbassyTelAviv (@usembassyta) November 5, 2013
The Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway leading into Tel Aviv was closed for the event, from Ben-Gurion International Airport to the Kibbutz Galuyot exit heading west; and the same road, leading east to Jerusalem, will be closed following the ceremony. In Tel Aviv, streets surrounding Rabin Square were blocked off.
During his visit, Kerry is set to discuss the ongoing final-status negotiations, as well as other regional issues of mutual concern, with the Israeli and Palestinian officials. He will also discuss issues related to Iran.
On Thursday, he will continue his tour in Amman, and will then make his way to Abu Dhabi, Algiers and Rabat.
The secretary is due to return to the United States on November 12.