Kerry to meet with Netanyahu and Abbas in bid to curb violence
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Kerry to meet with Netanyahu and Abbas in bid to curb violence

JERUSALEM (JTA) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Paris that he will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in an effort to stem the wave of violence in Israel and the West Bank.

“Later this week I will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu because he will be in Germany … we will meet there,” Kerry said Sunday at UNESCO headquarters, the French news agency AFP reported. “And then I will go the the region and I will meet with President Abbas, I will meet with King Abdullah [of Jordan] and others.”

Kerry confirmed the meetings that were widely reported — German and Israeli officials had announced the Kerry-Netanyahu meeting late last week. Netanyahu is scheduled to travel to Germany on Wednesday to discuss the current crisis in Israel with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Kerry is traveling in Europe this week.

His announcement in Paris came two days after President Barack Obama acknowledged Israel’s right to defend its citizens from a wave of attacks by Palestinians on Israeli citizens. In the past month, eight Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks, mostly stabbings, while 40 Palestinians, including 19 identified by Israel as assailants, have been killed, according to The Associated Press.

Obama called on Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to “tamp down the rhetoric” feeding the current violence in Israel.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms violence directed against innocent people, and believe that Israel has a right to maintain basic law and order, and protect its citizens from knife attacks and violence on the streets,” Obama said Friday at the White House during a news conference with the president of South Korea.

Obama called on Netanyahu and Abbas, as well as other Israeli and Palestinian officials, to “try to get all people in Israel and in the West Bank to recognize that this kind of random violence isn’t going to result in anything other than more hardship and more insecurity.”

He called again for a resumption of the peace process toward a two-state solution.

“(T)he only way that Israel is going to be truly secure and the only way that the Palestinians are going to be able to meet the aspirations of their people is if there are two states living side by side in peace and security,” the U.S. leader said, adding, “right now, everybody needs to focus on making sure that innocent people aren’t being killed.”

Kerry spoke Friday by phone with Netanyahu in what the State Department called in a statement a “constructive conversation … about how best to end the recent wave of violence, and to offer U.S. support for efforts to restore calm as soon as possible.” Kerry reiterated the United States’ “strong condemnation of terrorist attacks against innocent civilians and support for Israel’s right to defend its citizens,” according to the statement.

In a conversation Friday with Abbas, Kerry “reiterated the importance of avoiding further violence and preventing inflammatory rhetoric, accusations and actions that will increase tensions,” according to a State Department statement about the call.