Kerry: Procedural issues holding up talks

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Palestinians and Israelis are at odds now more about the process rather than substance, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.

“The bitter irony is that at this point the fight is over process, it’s not over the final status agreement,” Kerry said in testimony Tuesday before the U.S. Senate.

He said there had been considerable progress made since the relaunching of talks last July on the “substantive decisions.”

Talks have verged on collapse since March 29, when Israel failed to meet a deadline to release a fourth and final batch of prisoners under the terms that allowed the talks to reconvene. Three days later, the Palestinian Authority applied to join 15 international conventions, also in violation of the agreement that advanced the talks.

The United States has been in intensive discussions with the sides in a bid to extend the talks beyond the April 29 deadline for an agreement.

“At the request of the parties, the U.S. facilitated a meeting between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators this evening to continue the intensive effort to resolve their differences,” a State Department statement said Monday evening. “Gaps remain, but both sides are committed to narrow the gaps.”

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