Reuters reports: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry broke from a visit to Italy on Wednesday to try to salvage Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, even as Arab leaders declared they would never meet Israel’s core demand to be recognized as a Jewish state.
Kerry flew to Jordan to ask Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to commit to extending the negotiations, just days before Israel is supposed to release a final group of Palestinian prisoners as a confidence-building gesture.
Before it releases the prisoners, Israel wants to be assured Abbas won’t abandon the U.S.-brokered talks, which resumed last July after a three-year break. Having initially set next month as the target date for a peace accord, Kerry is now trying to get the sides to a agree a framework for further negotiations.
Israel’s Army Radio said Washington had offered to free Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. Navy analyst jailed for spying for Israel in the 1980s, if Israel went ahead with the prisoner release – keeping Abbas on the diplomatic track.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki denied the report, saying: “There are currently no plans to release Jonathan Pollard.” [Continue reading…]