Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Kerry wraps up Israel visit, no sign of breakthrough
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry left Israel late Wednesday after a day-long visit in the country in which he tried to broker a ceasefire agreement to end the ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas. There have been no official reports regarding a possible breakthrough in the ceasefire efforts as Kerry left Wednesday night and no comments were made by Israeli officials regarding the status of the talks. Kerry met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who arrived in Israel the preceding day, trying to bring an end to Israel's 16-day campaign in Gaza. Kerry said earlier on Wednesday, prior to his meeting with the UN chief and following his meeting with Palestinian President Abbas, that some progress was made, but that there's still work that needs to be done to reach an agreement. "We have certainly made some steps forward and there is still work to be done," Kerry told the UN chief in Jerusalem Wednesday morning. Kerry thanked Ban for his efforts to advance "not just a ceasefire but a sustainable process going forward." The secretary of state did not give any details regarding the so-called progress and made no further statements to the press throughout the visit. Senior Israeli officials were quoted by the Ha'aretz daily as saying that at this point, the conditions are not ripe for a ceasefire. Following Kerry's meeting with Netanyahu Wednesday evening, the Israeli prime minister convened his security cabinet in Tel Aviv in order to discuss the Gaza Operation and the ongoing mediation efforts. The cabinet is scheduled to conduct an unusual session in the Knesset (parliament) on Thursday, the Ha'aretz daily reported, to discuss Operation Protective Edge, which Israel commenced on July 8. Netanyahu is expected to give a statement during the session. Kerry arrived in Tel Aviv on Wednesday morning, after making an earlier stop in Cairo where he met with Egyptian officials. His arrival comes amid a ban announced by the United States Federal Aviation Authority on flights to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport, due to the rockets threat from the Gaza Strip. Kerry arrived in Ramallah in the afternoon, where he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has also been shuttling back and forth between Arab nations in order to get a ceasefire agreement.