News / Middle East

Mideast Peace Talks Resume in Washington

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) speaks next to Martin Indyk at the State Department in Washington ,July 29, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) speaks next to Martin Indyk at the State Department in Washington ,July 29, 2013.
Robert Berger
Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians are set to resume late Monday in Washington after a long stalemate. But there are plenty of obstacles ahead.
 
Key Issues in Israeli - Palestinian Talks

Two State Solution
  • Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as capital
  • Israel says future shape of Palestinian state must be based on negotiations and  resists calls to base talks on pre-war 1967 lines

Israeli Settlements
  • Israel has built large settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem
  • Palestinians call for a total freeze on settlement activity

Status of Jerusalem
  • Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be their capital
  • Israel has annexed East Jerusalem and says Jerusalem is its indivisible, eternal capital

Palestinian Refugees
  • Palestinians demand refugees who left or were forced out when Israel was created in 1948 be allowed to return, along with their descendents
  • Israel rejects the right of return
The new Israeli-Palestinian talks follow nearly five years of paralysis, and skepticism on both sides runs deep. Twenty years of on-again, off-again negotiations have failed to achieve a final peace agreement with the creation of a Palestinian state.

Just hours before the negotiations were to begin,  US Secretary of State Kerry named former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk to be his point man for the talks. Indyk played a key role in the 2000 Camp David peace negotiations.

At a State Department briefing Monday with Indyk at his side, Kerry said "reasonable compromises must be the keystone for all efforts towards a negotiated settlement."
 
Israeli and Palestinian chief negotiators will try to hammer out a framework for the talks which will tackle the thorniest issues of the conflict: the status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, Jewish settlements and final borders. 
 
Gaps are wide, but the return to face-to-face talks signals that the parties are prepared to give peace a chance.  

Israeli chief negotiator Tzipi Livni said the negotiations will be “very complex in a very difficult neighborhood.” But she said peace talks are necessary to preserve a secure and democratic Israel, and they are beginning with both caution and hope. 
 
Palestinian expectations are low, and disagreements have already emerged over the future borders of a Palestinian state. Palestinian officials say the negotiations must be based on an Israeli withdrawal from territories captured during the 1967 Middle East war, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They are also demanding a freeze on Jewish settlement construction in those disputed areas. 
 
Mutstafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said the peace process is troubled.
 
“The declared agreement is quite fragile. It is obvious that Israel does not accept the ‘67 borders as terms of reference for these negotiations, and also, Israel is going to continue to build settlements while negotiations take place," Barghouti, said. "This would undermine completely any potential for the success of such negotiations.”  
 
Israel says that the 1967 borders are indefensible, Jerusalem is not negotiable and the future of the settlements will be determined in direct talks. 
 
Bridging those gaps will be a major challenge for Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, and their American mediators. But to sweeten the cup, Israel plans to release 104 long-term Palestinian prisoners. 
 
Related video

Israelis, Palestinians to Resume Direct Talksi
X
July 29, 2013 5:57 PM
Israelis and Palestinians are resuming direct talks after a three year lapse, with initial meetings in Washington to discuss plans to move forward. VOA's Suzanne Presto has more from the State Department.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 29, 2013 12:03 PM
I want to agree with Livni's "very difficult neighborhood” claim. We must agree that the White House as presently constituted is not friendly toward Israel. Again the Palestinian demand negates conservative Jewish tradition that dates back to at least 7000 years. The Middle East did not jump into existence in 1967, so how did the borders then come about? Perhaps the Palestinians should tell us what name they were called in the medieval so we can understand why they lay claim to the land, nay Jerusalem.

However it is interesting that the two parties have agreed to restart the negotiations, but the supporters should help them to achieve the elusive peace by stopping to push for untenable goals. Sticking to certain demands like stopping settlement building, East Jerusalem, etc., while still striding Israel on two sides is unacceptable. While we wish the peace process succeeds this time around as its success will bring much of the world's requirement of peace, it must not be at the cost of the original owners who rather than cry out as having their land occupied, are accused of annexing Palestinian land. Unfair as that may be, yet let there be peace in the Middle East so that the mad dogs will no longer proffer any more reason to attack modern civilization.

by: Oluwasegun Oluwadare from: Nigeria
July 29, 2013 10:11 AM
I pray for the peace of Israel,I pray for the peace of Jerusalem.Let there be peace within her walls and prosperity within her palaces.

A secured and peaceful Israel is a secured and peaceful Middle East.

by: Tony Bellchambers from: London
July 29, 2013 2:57 AM
How long before Netanyahu refuses to consider 'preconditions' i.e. to stop his illegal settlement policy on stolen occupied Palestinian land and forces the new 'peace' talks to close and reinforces the increasingly widespread view that it is he, Binyamin Netanyahu, who controls the Middle East foreign policy of the United States, the United Nations and the European Union.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs