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Kerry meets Netanyahu, sees some ‘optimism’

Kerry believes that tensions between Israelis and Palestinians could be defused if they ‘want to try’

Published: Updated:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday gave him a “cautious measure of optimism” that tensions between Israelis and Palestinians could be defused.

“I would characterize that conversation (with Netanyahu) as one that gave me a cautious measure of optimism that there may be ... a way to defuse the situation and begin to find a way forward,” Kerry said in Berlin.

"If parties want to try, and I believe they do, want to move to a de-escalation, there are a set of choices that are available,” he added at a joint news conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Nine Israelis have been killed in Palestinian stabbings, shootings and vehicle attacks since the start of October, while 48 Palestinians, including 24 attackers, among them children, have been killed by Israeli security forces in response.

Meanwhile, the “Quartet” of Middle East peace mediators will meet in Vienna on Friday to urge Israeli and Palestinian leaders to tone down their rhetoric and calm down the situation on the ground, the EU’s top diplomat said on
Thursday.

“I can announce here that tomorrow in Vienna we will have a Quartet principals meeting,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told a joint news conference with Steinmeier in Berlin.

Meanwhile, Mogherini said she discussed concrete steps with Netanyahu on Thursday to calm tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

“I passed him a message of the need to explore together ways to stop violence, to calm down the situation, to show leadership and restraint, also on the rhetoric,” Mogherini said after meeting Netanyahu in Berlin.

“We discussed concrete ways to de-escalate the situation on the ground and to guarantee the status quo in the holy sites,” she told reporters.

Nine Israelis have been killed in Palestinian stabbings, shootings and vehicle attacks since the start of October, while 48 Palestinians, including 24 attackers, among them children, have been killed by Israeli security forces in response.