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John Kerry vows to forge ahead on Mideast

Says the naysayers won’t distract him

“I’m an optimist and I am a believer in possibilities,’’ US Secretary of State John Kerry said.

AFP/Getty Images/file

“I’m an optimist and I am a believer in possibilities,’’ US Secretary of State John Kerry said.

JERUSALEM — Secretary of State John Kerry said he remains ‘‘committed’’ and ‘‘determined’’ to reaching a Middle East peace deal, but said in an interview aired Thursday that he understands Israeli fears and skepticism of its outcome.

Kerry told Israeli Channel 2 TV’s flagship investigative program, ‘‘Uvda,’’ that he was not distracted by naysayers and has not given up hope.

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“I’m an optimist and I am a believer in possibilities,’’ he said. ‘‘People who know me know that when I sink my teeth into something, if I get the bit between my teeth, I try to get it done.’’

Kerry held a second day of talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris on Thursday, as he continues to press for an agreement on a framework for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

A day after a more than two-hour meeting, Kerry and Abbas sat down for another two-hour session.

The Israelis and Palestinians agreed to resume long-stalled talks last summer with a nine-month target for a peace deal. But there have been few tangible signs of progress, so the goal has been scaled back to getting consensus on an outline for negotiations.

There was no immediate comment on any results from Kerry’s two days of meetings in the French capital.

‘‘We will not accept any agreement, whether a framework or a final deal, unless it includes the firm Palestinian and Arab positions that are based on international resolutions,’’ said Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a top aide to Abbas. He repeated demands that East Jerusalem be the capital of a future Palestinian state whose borders are based in the 1967 lines and said that Israeli settlements are illegal, Palestinian prisoners must be released, and there must be a ‘‘just solution’’ to the issue of Palestinian refugees.

Abu Rdeneh also restated Palestinian opposition to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, which is a key Israeli demand.

On Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the Obama administration was concerned by recent derogatory comments about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and that Kerry would be raising the matter with Abbas.

In Israel, Kerry has come under fire from West Bank Jewish settlers who fear he is pushing Israel to make dangerous territorial concessions. Some Israeli ministers have criticized what they consider to be his overzealous drive for an accord, despite a Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and past terrorist attacks.

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