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Kerry rejects French proposal for international observers in Jerusalem

US Secretary of State John Kerry rejected a French proposal on Monday which calls for the deployment of international observers in Jerusalem to oversee the status quo in Al-Aqsa Mosque. “We don’t contemplate any change, but nor does Israel,” Kerry told a joint press conference with his Spanish counterpart, José Manuel García-Margallo, in Madrid.

“Israel understands the importance of that status quo,” Kerry insisted. “What is important is to make sure that everybody understands what that means. We are not seeking some new change. We are not seeking outsiders or others to come in.”

The Palestinian Authority has called for an international presence in Jerusalem because of Israel’s monopoly of access to Al-Aqsa Mosque, which has led to the current wave of violence.

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Speaking about the Syrian conflict, Kerry announced the possibility of multi-party negotiations with Russia and Middle East states to find a political solution. He said that he will be meeting with leaders from Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to work through “real and tangible options” that could perhaps reignite a political process and bring about a political transition in Syria.

“Everyone, including Russia and Iran, has said there is no military solution,” added the secretary of state. “This is a human catastrophe that not only threatens the integrity of whole country but also of countries around the region.” Propping up the Assad regime will ultimately fail, he concluded, and lead to “more bloodshed, more refugees, more extremism and more jihadists.”

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