Kerry lands in Israel on Gaza truce mission

US Secretary of State John Kerry walks with US embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Bill Grant at Ben Gurion airport as he arrives in Israel on July 23, 2014. AF Photo

Washington's top diplomat flew into Tel Aviv Wednesday, defying a US flight ban, to try to broker an end to violence in Gaza, which has killed hundreds and hobbled Israel's main airport.
Secretary of State John Kerry jetted in from Cairo to Ben Gurion airport, with reporters banned from reporting the trip until his custom Boeing 757 touched down.
He immediately set off for Jerusalem where he was to meet visiting UN chief Ban Ki-moon, after which he was to travel to the West Bank city of Ramallah for talks with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, a State Department official said.
He was later to return to Tel Aviv for talks at the defence ministry with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the official said, adding that Kerry had been engaged in phonecalls with regional foreign ministers until the early hours of Wednesday.
Washington's top diplomat has urged all sides to embrace an Egyptian ceasefire initiative that would first halt the fighting before negotiations.
The truce was accepted by Israel but rejected by Hamas, the de facto power in Gaza, which has laid down a series of conditions, including a removal of Israel's eight-year blockade on the enclave.         The United States has repeatedly supported Israel's Operation Protective Edge as self-defence as Hamas showers its ally with rockets.
But President Barack Obama and Kerry have also voiced growing concerns about the costs to civilians, including the deaths of numerous Palestinian children.
Kerry, who has invested much of his tenure into an unsuccessful bid to reach a permanent Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, has backed the Egyptian truce proposal but...

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