US Secretary of State John Kerry has met for over two hours with Palestinian negotiators for “constructive” talks on future relations with Israel, a US official says.
The talks come just days after Israel announced its biggest grab of Palestinian land since the 1980s, and as a new showdown looms at the United Nations with the increasingly frustrated Palestinians planning to push a resolution setting a three-year deadline to end the Israeli occupation.
It was Kerry’s first face-to-face talks with Palestinian negotiators since the US found itself sidelined from the Gaza ceasefire talks in July, when the top US diplomat failed to broker a truce in the war between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.
“Kerry met with Saeb Erekat and Majid Faraj for about two hours this afternoon,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
“It was a constructive conversation that covered a range of issues, including Gaza, Israeli-Palestinian relations, and recent developments in the region,” she said, adding they had agreed to talk again in coming weeks.
Kerry had also spoken on Tuesday by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when he expressed his concerns about new Israeli plans to confiscate about 400 hectares of land in the occupied West Bank for settlement building.
The US has called on Israel to reverse the decision.
State Department officials say the Palestinians had requested Wednesday’s meeting “to brief the secretary on current Palestinian plans on the way forward and next steps in Gaza”.
More than 2100 Palestinians were killed in Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip, nearly 70 per cent of them civilians, which ended last week with an open-ended ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militant groups, brokered by Egypt.