Plans set for Palestine-Israel peace talks: Kerry
Amman, July 20, 2013
Israel and the Palestinians have laid the groundwork for resuming peace talks after an almost three-year stalemate, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday, although he cautioned the deal was not final and required more diplomacy.
Kerry, winding up his sixth Middle East brokering mission this year, gave few details. He anticipated Israeli and Palestinian envoys would come to Washington soon for what a U.S. official said would mark the launch of direct negotiations.
"I am pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming direct final-status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis," Kerry told reporters in Amman.
"The best way to give these negotiations a chance is to keep them private," he said, saying that the deal was still being "formalized" and he would therefore not discuss it in detail.
"We know that the challenges require some very tough choices in the days ahead," he added. "Today, however, I am hopeful."
Peacemaking has ebbed and flowed for two decades, last breaking down in late 2010 over Israel's settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, where, along with the Gaza Strip, Palestinians seek statehood.
The Palestinians, with international backing, have said that state must have borders approximating the territories' boundaries before Israel captured them in the 1967 Middle East War - a demand hard to reconcile with the Jewish state's insistence on keeping swathes of settlements under any eventual peace accord.
Israeli and Palestinian officials cautiously welcomed Kerry's announcement. Both sides face hardline opposition at home to compromise in a stubborn conflict of turf and faith. – Reuters