- The Washington Times - Friday, December 6, 2013

Secretary of State John Kerry announced Friday that a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is closer than ever, a somewhat surprising claim given the opposite reactions of other key players involved in the talks.

“I believe we are closer than we have been in years to bringing about the peace and the prosperity and the security that all of the people of this region deserve,” Mr. Kerry told reporters at an airport near Tel Aviv, Agence France Presse reported.

His comments came on the heels of a third meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a three-hour meeting with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and a brief discussion with Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid.

“We, I think, made some progress,” he said, according to AFP. “The interests are very similar,” aside from a few issues dealing with “sovereignty,” and “respect and dignity.”

But a senior Palestinian official saw the culmination of the week’s talks different, bluntly saying that Mr. Kerry’s proposals “were very bad ideas which we cannot accept.”

Chief negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP that the peace talk situation was “still very difficult and matters are complicated.”