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Israel, Palestinians Resuming Peace Talks

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are resuming peace talks Wednesday in Jerusalem, their first substantive attempt at resolving major issues between them in three years.

The two sides held preliminary talks last month in Washington, and have committed to spending nine months discussing the fate of Palestinian refugees, Israeli settlements and the borders of a future Palestinian state.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says both sides understand a sense of urgency, particularly regarding border and security issues. He spoke by phone with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ahead of Wednesday's talks.

The negotiations are being led by Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, with help from former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk.

The Israeli military said Wednesday its warplanes carried out airstrikes overnight targeting "concealed rocket launchers" in the Gaza Strip. A spokesman blamed the militant group Hamas for "terrorist activity" that comes from the area.

Late Tuesday, 26 Palestinian prisoners returned to the West Bank and Gaza after being freed from long-time detention in Israel. Jubilant relatives celebrated their return and Mr. Abbas hailed them as heroes.

The Israeli government has agreed to free a total of 104 Palestinian prisoners in stages, depending on the progress of the peace talks.

Families of some of the victims failed to convince the Israeli Supreme Court to stop the release. They say freeing them is a reward for terrorism.

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