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U.S. will send another $75 million to Palestine for infrastructure

Nov. 6, 2013 at 3:52 PM   |   Comments

JERUSALEM, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday the United States will contribute $75 million more to "high-impact infrastructure investment" in Palestine.

Speaking with reporters in Bethlehem after he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Kerry said Abbas "is 100 percent committed" to peace talks being held with Israel.

"I'm convinced that he wants to find peace and that he understands that we require compromise by all the parties. And he has restated to me today his own willingness to compromise in an effort to find a fair and just peace," Kerry said.

"I'm particularly excited that today we were able, in Bethlehem, to make the announcement of $75 million that will be added to an already committed $25 million for $100 million of high-impact infrastructure investment by the United States to immediately have an impact on the day-to-day life of Palestinians," Kerry said.

Kerry was to meet later Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and then travel to Amman for meetings with Jordanian King Abdullah before meeting again with Abbas.

Netanyahu said Wednesday he was concerned by the lack of progress in peace talks with Palestinians.

Speaking alongside Kerry in Jerusalem Wednesday, Netanyahu said Palestinian leaders are creating an artificial crisis and inciting their people, The Jerusalem Post reported.

"I'm concerned about their progress because I see the Palestinians continuing with incitement, continuing to create artificial crisis, continuing to avoid historic decisions that are needed to make a genuine peace," Netanyahu said to Kerry. "I hope your visit can steer them back to a place where we can achieve the historic peace we seek and that our people deserve."

Netanyahu noted Israel, the Palestinians and the United States agreed to terms three months ago to kick-start the talks.

"We stand by those terms. We abide scrupulously by the terms of the agreements and the understandings by which we launched the negotiations," he said.

Kerry said he was aware of the difficulties and tensions in negotiations but said he was confident of "our ability to work through them. That's why I'm here."

"I hope we will continue in the good faith that brought the parties together in the first place," Kerry said. "This can be achieved. With good faith, with a serious effort on both sides to make real compromises, hard decisions -- this can be achieved."

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met for the 16th time Tuesday in Jerusalem prior to Kerry's arrival. Palestinian officials whose names were not reported told Haaretz the talks ended in a row with raised voices and an exchange of verbal insults.

Arriving in Israel Tuesday night, Kerry said a "fair peace" would let Israelis and Palestinians live safely together.

"America will stand by the side of Israel every step of the way," Kerry said at a Jerusalem ceremony marking 18 years since the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Kerry said Rabin -- a key Israeli advocate for an Israeli-Palestinian peace -- called for a "just and appropriate and fair peace" that "guarantees that Israel's security will be protected, but makes possible for people to live the words of the prime minister: 'We are destined to live together.' And I add, in peace."

Rabin's full quote about Israelis and Palestinians was, "We are destined to live together, on the same soil in the same land."

Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. The agreement -- the first face-to-face agreement between Israel and the PLO -- set up a framework for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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