Kerry adds unscheduled Israel stop

Kerry adds unscheduled Israel stop

After traveling with U.S. President Barack Obama to Jordan, Secretary of State John Kerry will return to Israel and have a one-on-one meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.

Kerry had not been scheduled to return to Israel after traveling to Jordan with Obama Friday, but will now return to Tel Aviv on Saturday, a senior State Department official said. Obama will not be part of that meeting as he is expected to return to Washington Saturday after meeting Jordanian King Abdullah II and visiting Petra, the ancient Nabatean site made famous by Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

"Secretary Kerry will likely meet Prime Minister Netanyahu on Saturday to review the results of the president’s visit following his stops in Ramallah and Amman, and to discuss next steps on the key issues," the senior State Department official said.

The new stop for Kerry has sparked speculation in diplomatic circles that the secretary might try to reestablish  a process by which Jordan would host talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Jordan hosted two sets of those talks in 2012, one in January that was well reported and another in the summer that was revealed this week.

Israel’s Ambassador Michael Oren mentioned the previously undisclosed second set of Israeli-Palestinian talks in a March 19 op-ed in the LA Times.

"Just last summer, nearly 20 years after Jordan signed its own treaty with Israel, King Abdullah II hosted an effort to resume direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians," Oren wrote. "Regrettably, the Palestinian Authority walked away."

The State Department declined to comment on the possibility of a new round of Jordan hosted talks.