U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry left Israel without bringing Israeli and Palestinian officials back to the peace negotiating table.
Kerry said, however, that “real progress” had been made during his whirlwind trip and he would return to the region.
He left Israel for Asia on Sunday afternoon, following three meetings each with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
“We started out with very wide gaps and we have narrowed those considerably,” Kerry said before boarding his plane. “We are making progress. That’s what’s important and that’s what will bring me back here.
“I believe that with a little more work, the start of final status negotiations could be within reach.”
Netanyahu told his Cabinet on Sunday morning that Israel will not compromise on security in a peace deal with the Palestinians. He also said any agreement would be brought to a vote of the people.
“Israel is ready to begin negotiations without delay, without preconditions,” Netanyahu told his Cabinet. “We are not putting up any impediments on the resumption of the permanent talks and a peace agreement between us and the Palestinians.
“There are things that we will strongly insist on in the talks themselves, especially security,” Netanyahu said.
PLO official Saeb Erekat said on Sunday that there had been no breakthrough in the marathon.
“There has been no breakthrough so far and there is still a gap between the Palestinian and Israeli positions,” chief PLO negotiator Erakat told reporters after Kerry had finished talks in Ramallah with President Mahmoud Abbas, his third meeting in as many days.
“Netanyahu and his government are not serious about establishing a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders, they speak of a state without clear borders, and we need clarity according to international resolutions,” said Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior official of Abbas’s ruling Fatah party.
“We are ready to resume negotiations according to our clear guidelines,” he told Voice of Palestine.
“Even with regards to the prisoners’ issue, Israel did not provide any clear answer. We want a serious process to be launched,” he said.
JTA and Ma’an content was used in this report.
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