Kerry: US, Israel can make progress on two-state solution in coming months

Secretary of state, Netanyahu meet in New York, hail US-Israel ties, newly signed $38 billion military aid deal

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US Secretary Of State John Kerry in New York on September 23, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US Secretary Of State John Kerry in New York on September 23, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that Israel and the US could still make progress toward the two-state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict in the coming months and that Israel could work with Mideast allies to achieve more stability in the region.

Speaking at a joint press conference before a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, Kerry said the US and Israel could use their friendship “to advance (peace efforts), what we believe is not only in the highest priority for Israel to provide for its long-term security.”

Kerry said that there were “things we believe we could achieve in the next months, and there are serious concerns that we all have about the security of the region, the need for stability, the need to protect the two-state solution.”

The top US diplomat added that the US-Israel alliance could also help “create a new relationship within the region that can be powerful in reinforcing that long-term security interest.”

Kerry and Netanyahu met a day after the Israeli PM gave his annual address to the UN General Assembly in which he hailed developments on regional ties, called on the Palestinian leadership to restart talks and invited Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to speak at the Knesset. This came a day after Netanyahu met with Obama to thank him for last week’s signing of a $38 billion military aid deal to Israel — the largest single pledge to any country.

Kerry on Friday praised the deal, known as the Memorandum of Understanding, which he said “provides for a long-term commitment of security between the United States and Israel” and “is a remarkable statement about the relationship between our countries.”

He added that while the Obama administration’s term was coming to an end, “my affection for Israel, my commitment to Israel, will last well beyond my tenure as secretary of state.”

In the press briefing, Netanyahu said that he and Kerry speak every other day and sometimes every day by phone, to which Kerry responded that he didn’t think “any secretary of state in history has talked with the prime minister of Israel as many times, as frequently, or visited as frequently as I have.”

Netanyahu said that it was “always important and productive to talk directly about how we can advance peace and stability with our neighbors in the region.”

Kerry ended his remarks by saying that he and Netanyahu “have a lot to talk about, a lot to build on,” and “because we are friends and we have a common interest.”

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