Qatar Agrees to PA Bailout

PARIS (Reuters) -

Netanyahu, Kerry Meet Wednesday

Qatar has agreed to provide $150 million in debt relief to the Palestinian Authority, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday as he announced that Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are intensifying.

Speaking after he briefed Arab states about the direct peace negotiations, which resumed on July 29 with a goal of reaching an agreement within nine months, Kerry told reporters that the two sides have increased the pace of their discussions.

The Israelis and Palestinians have held 13 meetings since the talks got going after a nearly three-year hiatus, including three meetings in the last four days, Kerry said at a joint news conference with Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah.

He also said that the government of Qatar would offer the debt relief to the donor-dependent Palestinian Authority, which faces mounting debt as Western and Gulf aid has dwindled.

Welcoming Qatar’s move, Kerry said he expected other Arab countries would follow in its steps although no economic package could be a substitute for political efforts to seek peace.

Kerry meets Netanyahu in Rome on Wednesday for talks that will cover both the Iranian nuclear program and the peace process.