TEL AVIV, Israel — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived Thursday in Israel to broker Mideast peace talks that are entering a difficult phase aimed at reaching a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Kerry had talks scheduled Thursday in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On Friday, he'll be in the West Bank to talk with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Kerry is asking both leaders to make tough, highly charged political decisions that would yield the contours of an eventual peace treaty, creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Netanyahu is likely to be asked to accept — with some modifications — the borderlines that existed in 1967 before Israel captured Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Abbas fears being asked to recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people and give up the so-called "right of return" for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled or were expelled in the war over Israel's creation in 1948.

Negotiators from both sides have had some 20 rounds of talks since summer and this is Kerry's 10th trip to the region to help craft a final peace accord. Just four months remain until a U.S.-set target date for a final agreement.

Underlying the ongoing impasse is the lack of agreement on ground rules. Kerry hopes progress will be possible once the two sides agree on the outlines of a deal.

Kerry has kept his ideas for a framework under wraps, but has said the contours of a deal are known after two decades of intermittent negotiations.