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“Having a new secretary of State coming with all this determination, not just waiting for both sides to enter the room, but pushing in a way … I believe that this is good news and I believe that you should thank him for this,” Mrs. Livni told the audience.

Mrs. Livni said signing a peace agreement with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was similar to signing a check linked to a bank account that is empty.

“[Mr. Abbas] cannot deliver in Gaza, but we need his signature,” she said.
The Gaza Strip is controlled by Hamas, a militant group that is committed to the destruction of Israel.

Mr. Kerry said he believed both Mr. Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could be partners in peace. It was important to recognize the Palestinians’ aspirations to live in peace in their own state, he said.

Mr. Abbas is under pressure to join the peace process without first securing an Israeli promise to freeze construction in Jewish settlements.

The failure of the peace process would undermine the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, which has committed itself to nonviolence, Mr. Kerry warned.

“If that experiment [in the West Bank] is allowed to fail, ask yourselves ‘What will replace it?” he said.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a recorded message to the meeting, urged support for Mr. Kerry’s Middle East initiative, saying it may well be the last chance for a two-state solution.

Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said Greece supports Mr. Kerry’s initiative.

“Let’s hope that reason will prevail,” he said.