RAMALLAH, West Bank –- Secretary of State John Kerry nibbled away at a Mideast peace plan Thursday, taking time off from a busy political schedule to drop in to a West Bank restaurant for some regional specialties.
After meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Kerry stopped on his way out of Ramallah for a shawarma sandwich, Palestinian baklava and other sweets. (shawarma, a form of shredded, grilled meat, is a popular Middle Eastern snack.)
Kerry arrived in Ramallah in the early afternoon for the meeting with Abbas, his fourth since March, in his effort to revive the Palestinian-Israeli peace process stalled since 2010.
A Palestinian statement after the meeting, which lasted more than two hours, was short on specifics. It said Abbas reiterated his long standing position that he wants “serious and credible negotiations in order to salvage the two-state solution” and that Israel should stop all settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.
Palestinians are not optimistic Kerry will be able to get Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to a settlement freeze.
At his snack stop, restaurant owner Samer Batrawi said Kerry had turkey shawarma, paid for it himself and chatted about the local economy. Afterward, Kerry walked around the area and talked with Ramallah businessmen.