Kerry to Netanyahu: Let’s ‘rekindle’ the peace process

In Berlin meet, secretary of state urges PM to move ‘beyond the rhetoric’; both leaders call for end to incitement fueling terror wave

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Berlin, October 22, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Berlin, October 22, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday called on Israel to move “beyond the rhetoric” and take steps to “rekindle” the peace process with the Palestinians.

“It’s very important to settle on the steps that can be taken that take us beyond the condemnations, beyond the rhetoric,” Kerry told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Berlin. “It is absolutely critical to end all incitement and all violence and find the road forward to build the possibility that is not there today for a larger process.”

The two leaders could “really rekindle that process,” Kerry told Netanyahu. “We’ve been at this. We know each other well. I believe we have the ability to make efforts.”

The US top diplomat said he drew confidence from recent conversations he conducted with Jordanian King Abdullah and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. “I believe people want this to de-escalate. So let’s go to work and see what we can do.”

PM Netanyahu Meets US Secretary of State Kerry

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Berlin.Video: GPO

Posted by The Prime Minister of Israel on Thursday, October 22, 2015

Netanyahu, who spoke before Kerry at a joint press conference, focused his remarks on the ongoing wave of terrorism, and accused Abbas of inciting violence against Israel by spreading lies.

“Yesterday was a tough day. We had four terrorist attacks. This morning began with an attack in which two terrorists tried to murder a bus full of school children,” the prime minister said.

“There is no question that this wave of attacks is driven directly by incitement — incitement from Hamas, incitement from the Islamic Movement in Israel, and incitement, I’m sorry to say, from President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority,” the prime minister said. “I think it’s time for the international community to say clearly to President Abbas: Stop spreading lies about Israel.

“Lies that Israel wants to change the status quo on the Temple Mount, lies that Israel wants to tear down the Al-Aqsa Mosque and lies that Israel is executing Palestinians. All that is false. We remain committed to the status quo. We’re the ones that protect all the holy sites. And Israel is acting to protect its citizens as any democracy would in the face of such wanton and relentless attacks.”

Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s commitment to the status quo on the Temple Mount, adding that it was doing what every democracy would do to defend its civilians against terrorist attacks. “To generate hope, we have to stop the terrorism. To stop the terrorism, we have to stop the incitement,” he said.

Kerry heads to Amman after his Berlin visit, where he will hold talks with both Abbas and Abdullah.

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