12:43 am - Wednesday February 21, 2018

Kerry, Abbas to Discuss Easing Israeli-Palestinian Tensions

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Kerry shows optimism on Israel-Palestinian peace talks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is due to meet Thursday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the talks will likely focus on how to lower tensions with Israel, particularly a recent flare up in the dispute over a holy site in Jerusalem.

They are also expected to discuss rebuilding efforts in the Gaza Strip, where Israeli airstrikes destroyed entire neighborhoods during a 50-day war that also left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead.

The meeting comes a day after Israel announced a new round of planned housing construction in a Jewish section of east Jerusalem. Palestinians reject Israeli construction in areas they want in a future state, including east Jerusalem, which they envision as their capital.

Psaki said Wednesday the U.S. is deeply concerned about Israel’s construction plans, which “fly in the face of the stated goal of achieving a two-state solution.”

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