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Peace process is not open-ended: Kerry
US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a press conference in Rabat on April 4, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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AFP & ALRAY - Washington said Friday it was reviewing its push for a Middle East peace agreement as a spiral of tit-for-tat moves by Israel and the Palestinians took hard-won talks close to collapse.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who has invested more than a year of intensive shuttle diplomacy, said there were "limits" to the time Washington could devote to the process.

"This is not open-ended," Kerry said in Morocco, adding that it was "reality check" time and he would evaluate with President Barack Obama Washington's next move.

"There are limits to the amount of time and effort that the United States can spend if the parties themselves are unwilling to take constructive steps."

Kerry spoke to both Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Thursday in a desperate bid to bring the two sides back from the brink.

But President Mahmoud Abbas rejected his appeals to withdraw the applications he signed on Tuesday to adhere to 15 international treaties, a Palestinian official told AFP.

And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ignored appeals to refrain from "unhelpful" tit-for-tat moves and asked officials to draw up a range of tough reprisals, Israeli media reported.

Israel says Tuesday's move by Abbas is a clear breach promises made by the Palestinians when peace talks were relaunched in July to pursue no other avenues for recognition of their promised state.

The Palestinians [Abbas camp] say Israel had already reneged on its own commitments by failing to release a fourth and final batch of Arab prisoners on the weekend, and that the treaty move was their response.

Some 1,500 Palestinians demonstrated Friday outside Ofer military prison near Ramallah, rallied by the families of those who were to have been freed on March 29.

Eight protesters were wounded by gunfire from Israeli troops, medics said, two in serious condition.

An army spokeswoman said "200 Palestinians" had "hurled rocks and burning tires at security forces" and soldiers responded with "riot dispersal methods and small caliber rounds."

Peace talks with Israel started with the signing of Oslo Accords in 1993. Palestinians have since hardly seen tangible results that could ensure their rights are maintained.

Negotiations over end of the Israeli occupation, return of the refugees, and freedom of prisoners and establishing a Palestinian state have faltered. Israel made peace harder with conditions like recognizing it as a Jewish state, keeping the Jordan Valley under Israeli control, rejecting the return of the Palestinian refugees, and going on with settlement.

 

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