More:Photos From the Trip
On April 7-9, 2013, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Jerusalem and Ramallah. During his visit, he met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Israeli President Shimon Peres, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. These meetings were to follow up on last month's discussions, as we continue to assess how best we can support the parties in getting back to the table and in having dialogue leading to peace. We remain committed to working with the parties to achieve a lasting peace through direct negotiations.
On April 8, Secretary Kerry participated in the Holocaust Remembrance Day wreath-laying ceremony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Afterwards, he spoke with the staff and families of the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem, where he said, "I have traveled throughout this region for a long time. I think I first came to Israel in 1986 and...I think I've had some exposure to life here. And what I've learned is that Palestinian, Israeli, visitors alike, all believe in the possibility of peace."
Secretary Kerry concluded his day at President Peres's residence, where he said, "...It's a great privilege for me to be able to be here now representing President Obama and the American people in this effort to try to get us across the line. We all know it's not easy. But as you said yourself, it can be done. And it has been expressed by your leaders and others through years that people believe in the possibility of a two-state solution. I am convinced there is a road forward, and I look forward to the discussions with your leaders and yourself regarding how that road could be sort of reignited, if you will, once again setting out on that path."
On April 9, before his departure from Tel Aviv, Secretary Kerry held a press availability. The Secretary described his visit as, "...a very good series of discussions with Prime Minister Netanyahu, with President Abbas, as well as with Prime Minister Fayyad and President Peres. Each of them made very serious and well-considered, constructive suggestions with respect to what the road forward might look like. And they all embraced the goal that we all share here. So this effort is not just about getting the parties back into direct negotiations, it's about getting everybody in the best position to succeed."
The Secretary continued, "...We also spoke about other steps that could be taken in order to facilitate this process and to make it more conducive to success. Specifically, we agreed among us -- President Abbas, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and ourselves -- that we are going to engage in new efforts, very specific efforts, to promote economic development and to remove some of the bottlenecks and barriers that exist with respect to commerce in the West Bank, to move very rapidly towards increased business expansion and private sector investment in the West Bank, all of which, we are convinced, will help improve the economic security of the people living there as well as improve the security of the people of Israel. Economic growth will help us be able to provide a climate, if you will, an atmosphere, within which people have greater confidence about moving forward. But I want to emphasize -- I emphasize this very strongly: This is not in lieu of, or an alternative to, the political track. It is not a substitute. The political track remains the primary focus. But this is in addition to, in a way that could help to facilitate that track, and I believe will begin to take hold immediately."
Secretary Kerry departed Tel Aviv for London, where he will participate in the G-8 Foreign Ministers Meeting April 10-11. You can follow the Secretary's trip on www.state.gov and on Twitter via @StateDept.