Home / World

Israeli-Palestinian talks aim at peace deal in 9 months

By Agencies in Washington and Jerusalem | China Daily | Updated: 2013-08-01 07:51

Israeli-Palestinian talks aim at peace deal in 9 months 

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat (left) meets with Israel's Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and US Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington on Tuesday to reach a peace deal. Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Pressing ahead in a new US-backed push for Middle East peace, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed on Tuesday to meet again within two weeks to start substantive talks in hopes of reaching a long-elusive settlement within nine months.

Speaking after the two sides wrapped up an initial two days of talks at the US State Department and visited President Barack Obama at the White House, Secretary of State John Kerry said Israel and the Palestinians were committed to sustained and serious negotiations on the "core issues" that divide them. The next round will take place in either Israel or the Palestinian territories before mid-August, he said.

Kerry said he was aware of the deep doubts surrounding the new peace effort and acknowledged that the road would be difficult. Yet, he said, "While I understand the skepticism, I don't share it. And I don't think we have time for it."

All issues, including contentious disputes over the status of the territories and Jerusalem, are "on the table for negotiation, and they are on the table with one simple goal: a view to ending the conflict," Kerry said.

Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni said she was "encouraged" by the first round of direct peace talks with the Palestinians.

"I am encouraged ... coming out of the first meeting," she said in an interview broadcast early on Wednesday by Israeli army radio. "It was an event in which there was a kind of excitement and also hope."

The US had already said the negotiations would continue for at least nine months - roughly until the end of April 2014 - but that had not been set as a timeframe for reaching a deal. Kerry and both sides agreed that neither would walk away from the talks or take actions that could disrupt them for that period, two senior US officials said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss diplomatic talks.

However, the officials also said they expect that the Israelis, over US objections, will continue constructing housing for Jewish settlers on land claimed by the Palestinians over the course of the negotiations, an indication the Palestinians are serious about dropping their longstanding demand for a settlement freeze before returning to talks. The officials said the US believes the Palestinians also will not attempt to win further international recognition as a state until a peace deal is completed, an effort that one official likened to a potential "train wreck".

Kerry said that Israel, which agreed on Sunday to release more than 100 Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture, would also take unspecified steps in the coming days to ease harsh living conditions in the West Bank and Gaza.

The two senior officials said those measures complement a $4 billion private sector economic program that Kerry is trying put in place to assist the Palestinians.

(China Daily 08/01/2013 page11)

Today's Top News

Editor's picks

Most Viewed

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349