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Middle East peace talks

China Daily | Updated: 2013-07-22 08:23

It is encouraging to learn that the long-anticipated agreement to resume the Middle East peace talks has finally been reached between Palestine and Israel. If everything goes well, chief Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni will meet with her Palestinian counterpart Saeb Erekat next week in Washington.

The news was broken on Friday night in Jordan by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is on his sixth visit to the region since March. The upcoming direct talks between the two sides in the Middle East, the first since 2010, have been the result of continuous efforts made by members of the international community. Countries such as the United States and China have stepped up mediation and carried out active diplomacy this year, trying to bring the Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiating table.

The parties concerned should cherish this hard-won result and show flexibility, so that the talks will not be merely talk for the sake of talk, and produce some positive outcomes, which in turn will help pave the way for lasting peace between the Palestinians and Israelis.

A breakthrough in the three-year stalemate in the Middle East peace process could also have positive implications for the region and beyond. It would enhance the world community's confidence in defusing crises through dialogue and negotiation.

In a sign of compromise, Israel has agreed to release Palestinian prisoners, but has stopped short of agreeing to other key Palestinian demands, including a freeze on settlement building in the West Bank. In fact, Israel's settlement plan was the major reason why direct negotiations between the two sides derailed in 2010.

Both sides need a stronger political will to make compromises when addressing the long-standing obstacles between them, such as the settlement issue and the return to the 1967 ceasefire lines.

Even if the prospects for any major breakthrough in this regard may look gloomy now, the two should be fully aware that negotiations are the only way for them to end decades of enmity and realize peaceful co-existence.

With a chance to get the Middle East peace process back on track appearing, the international community should do its utmost to push for the resumption of meaningful negotiations between the parties concerned.

(China Daily 07/22/2013 page8)

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