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John Kerry Extends Trip and Continues Shuttle Diplomacy

US Secretary of State John Kerry spent the weekend shuttling between Jerusalem and Ramallah trying to get Israelis and Palestinians to restart stalled peace talks. Sunday morning he added another meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas – his third in 72 hours. Saturday night he met with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni until 3:30 a.m. Kerry is trying to convene a four-way summit in Jordan, with Jordan’s King Abdullah as well as the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Direct talks broke down in late 2010 over Israel’s continued construction in areas Israel acquired in 1967. Abbas has demanded that Israel freeze all construction in these areas that he says must be part of a Palestinian state as well as releasing prisoners. Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said Israel is not holding up the resumption of peace talks, and that any peace treaty reached with the Palestinians would be subject to a referendum in Israel.