JERUSALEM (JTA) — Though there are "real opportunities" for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, the window is closing, U.S. Sen. John Kerry warned.
Meeting Wednesday with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Kerry (D-Mass.), said: "The window of opportunity for a comprehensive peace is closing, narrowing is the best way to put. I have just come from Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, I believe there are real opportunities but obviously as you know there are also real dangers. So this is a moment for statesmanship, it is a moment to try and define the opportunities and move forward rapidly."
Kerry, the chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee and a proxy for the Obama administration in the region, was touring Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and Israel this week. He was scheduled to meet later Wednesday with Palestinian Authority officials.
"Our eyes are not closed to the areas you are visiting and I know the purpose of your visit and we clearly support it. The fact that there are difficulties on the road to peace is not surprising, but if we lose our hope or patience it will be a mistake," Peres told Kerry.
On Tuesday, Kerry told Turkey it must take steps to improve frayed relations with Israel if it is to play a role in brokering regional peace
“Turkey will have to decide and Israel will have to decide what is satisfactory,” Kerry was quoted by the Financial Times as saying in Ankara. “Turkey can play a crucial role in helping the U.S. and others to reduce tensions in the Middle East.”
Turkey downgraded relations with Israel in the wake of the 2009 Gaza war, and particularly after Israel’s deadly raid in May on a Turkish aid flotilla aiming to breach Israel’s Gaza blockade.
Turkey previously had brokered Israel-Syria exploratory peace talks, and now it is seeking a role in mediating nuclear talks between Iran and the West.