AMMAN, Jordan - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry won Arab League backing Wednesday for his effort to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, raising hopes that the stalled negotiations could resume.
Kerry cited significant progress in narrowing gaps between the two sides, but he declined to elaborate.
On his sixth trip to the Middle East in as many months as America's top diplomat, Kerry met in Jordan with representatives of the Arab League and nine of its members that support an Arab-Israeli peace plan proposed by Saudi Arabia.
In a statement after the meeting, the Arab delegation endorsed Kerry's initiative, saying his ideas "constitute a good ground and suitable environment for restarting the negotiations, especially the new and important political, economic and security elements."
The statement was significant because it could give Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas the political cover he would need to sell a return to negotiations to a skeptical Palestinian public.
Abbas was to convene a meeting Thursday of the PLO leadership to discuss the matter.
Kerry met with Abbas in Amman on Wednesday afternoon; they also had a lengthy working dinner Monday night.
At a news conference after the Arab League and Abbas meetings, Kerry mentioned "very wide" and "very significant" gaps between Israelis and Palestinians that had prevented the two sides from restarting talks when his efforts began several months ago.
"Through hard and deliberate, patient work, and most importantly through quiet work we have been able to narrow those gaps very significantly," he said.
Kerry refused to discuss details of the proposals he laid out to the Arab officials or how the gap had narrowed.