TEL AVIV – Preparations are under way for a possible “surprise” visit to Israel next week by Secretary of State John Kerry, WND can exclusively report.
Diplomatic sources here say the possible visit – a bid to advance an Israeli-Palestinian deal – is dependent on the outcome of U.S. talks currently under way between Kerry and Palestinian leaders.
The sources said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his team have been reluctant to endorse Kerry’s latest version of a framework agreement, which is a paper containing general understandings about a future Israeli-Palestinian deal.
The sources said Kerry will visit the region as soon as next week if progress is made to bring the Palestinians closer to an agreement.
Asked for comment on the possible visit, State Department spokeswoman Katherine Pfaff told WND, “We have nothing to announce.”
Kerry is in Paris, where he held talks yesterday with Abbas for two hours. More consultations are scheduled for today.
Last month, WND reported the Palestinian Authority received a pledge from the U.S. that by the end of this year, the Obama administration will issue an official written declaration presenting general highlights of a future Palestinian state, according to a senior Palestinian negotiator.
The negotiator further said the goal is to have the general framework for a deal ironed out by April.
The framework for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement being brokered by Kerry calls for the phased implementation of more Palestinian sovereignty within three to five years, the negotiator said at the time.
As part of the written declaration, the U.S. is set to officially recognize Palestinian rights in eastern sections of Jerusalem without defining the exact territories that would eventually be handed to the PA.
The U.S. will declare on paper that the Jordan Valley territory is “occupied” by Israel and that Palestinians have rights there, the negotiator said.
Kerry is currently discussing a proposal in which Israel would lease some of the Jordan Valley from the PA so some Israeli communities in the area can stay, said the negotiator.
The written framework will also declare the West Bank “occupied,” according to the negotiator.