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Israeli and Palestinian leaders serious about peace talks, says John Kerry

In his fifth attempt to restart Israeli and Palestinian peace talks, Secretary of State John Kerry said leaders on both sides were serious about re-starting negotiations.

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Secretary of State John Kerry is joined by Israeli President Shimon Peres (L) and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas at the King Hussein Convention Centre on May 26, 2013 (Jim Young/AFP/Getty Images)

Secretary of State John Kerry, who spoke separately with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in May, told reporters Wednesday he believes both sides are serious about re-starting peace talks.

"I believe they believe the peace process is bigger than any one day or one moment, or certainly more important to their countries than some of their current political challenges," Kerry said at a news conference in Kuwait.

"That is why both of them have indicated a seriousness of purpose. I would not be here now if I didn't have the belief this is possible," he added.

Negotiations broke down in 2010, when both sides could not agree on Israeli construction in the West Bank, which Palestinians say should be part of their territory. Building houses on disputed land is still a key issue for both sides, one that could scuttle peace talks before they begin. 

That's why Israel's authorized construction of 69 new units, including 22 homes in two Palestinian districts in East Jerusalem, could disrupt Kerry's plans. Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be their capital. 

"Resumption of negotiation requires a cessation of all settlement activities," the Palestine Liberation Organization said earlier this week.

Kerry also said he did not want to establish a strict timeline, but admitted that some progress — of which there has been little — needed to be shown before September.

"The time is getting near where we need to make some judgments," Kerry said. "I don't want to trap myself or any of the principals in this with arbitrary or somewhat ad hoc time limits."

But, Kerry admitted, "Long before September we need to be showing some kind of progress in some way." 

More from GlobalPost: Israel-Palestine peace process should restart, Kerry tells World Economic Forum

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/130626/israeli-and-palestinian-leaders-serious-about-peace-talks-j