News / Middle East

Kerry Convinced Mideast Peace Deal Possible

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat (L) shakes hands with Israel's Justice Minister Tzipi Livni near U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry after announcing further talks at the State Department in Washington July 30, 2013.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat (L) shakes hands with Israel's Justice Minister Tzipi Livni near U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry after announcing further talks at the State Department in Washington July 30, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have agreed to convene again in the Middle East within the next two weeks to begin substantive negotiations toward a comprehensive peace agreement and that he is aiming to help seal a final deal within nine months.

Kerry, speaking alongside Tzipi Livni, Israel’s justice minister, and Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said this week's discussions were "positive and constructive" and he was convinced the two sides could make peace.

After a morning of talks at the White House with U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, Kerry said the two sides had agreed that all of the most contentious issues, such as borders, refugees and the fate of Jerusalem, would be on the table for discussion.

"The parties have agreed here today that all of the final status issues, all of the core issues, and all other issues, are on the table for negotiation.  They are on the table with one simple goal: a view to ending the conflict, ending the claims," Kerry said.

The top American diplomat stressed that both Israelis and Palestinians have "legitimate security concerns," pointing out the United States has worked closely with Palestinian authorities to develop their security force capacity, with "dramatic" results.

"All sides recognize this, Kerry said, "the Arab League, too."

Livni thanked Obama and Kerry for "proving today that failure is not an option."

The Israeli minister said she had traveled to Washington "from a troubled and changing region" and that her government "owed it to the Israeli people" to do everything it can for their security.

"We all know it's going to be hard, with ups and downs.  But I can assure you that in these negotiations it is not our intention to argue about the past, but to create solutions and make decisions for the future," Livni said.

The two days of negotiations in Washington were the first direct peace talks in nearly three years.

Kerry hosted the two sides for dinner Monday night, after urging them to make "reasonable compromises" in the negotiations.  He said the issues at stake are tough, complicated, emotional and symbolic, but that the consequences of not attempting to negotiate would be worse.

For his part, Erekat asserted that no one benefits more from successful talks than the Palestinians.

"I am delighted that all final status issues are on the table and will be resolved without any exceptions.  It's time for the Palestinian people to have an independent, sovereign state of their own," he said.

Former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk will be the main American envoy helping guide the talks.  Indyk said Monday he will do his best to achieve Obama's vision of two states living side by side in peace and security.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said earlier that the nine-month time frame for direct negotiations is not a deadline and that the talks will not automatically stop after that period.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to free 104 Palestinian prisoners as a condition to restart the talks.  Israeli media say the prisoners include Palestinians convicted of deadly attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces.

Ultranationalist Israeli Cabinet ministers have said freeing the prisoners would be a reward for terrorism.  But Netanyahu told his ministers the decision was difficult for him and the families of those killed, but necessary to renew the peace process.
 

Mark Snowiss

Mark Snowiss is a Washington D.C.-based multimedia reporter.  He has written and edited for various media outlets including Pacifica and NPR affiliates in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @msnowiss and on Google Plus

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by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 31, 2013 9:56 AM
Middle East peace is possible and most difficult. It is possible because everything is possible to happen, good and bad. But it is most difficult because you cannot force peace on someone else except you want to hostage the person. The Palestinians, especially those in Gaza, refuse to accept peace with Israel. It's like the ceasefire the Nigerian government declared with Boko Haram wherein the sect refused to own up to the declaration leading to more mayhem that took people unawares. If there is going to be a peace deal with the Palestinians, they must themselves be talking of the need for peace, otherwise land borders cannot guarantee peace.

Hamas wants elimination of Israel not just land, whether occupied or not. Hezbollah in the north wants another holocaust since Iran must wipe Israel from world map. What then is the peace deal all about: land boundaries, release of land to Palestinians, not to call the Israeli nation Jewish? All these are window dressing; the real issue is for the Palestinians to renounce the violence against Israel and embrace the much touted peace deal without which two state solution is a sham. It will only mean to liberate Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran to unleash a mayhem on Israel that will make the holocaust look like a child's play. But it is also possible to make peace with the PLO while Gaza will wait until it is matured for it. In which case it will not be recognized as part of Palestine, after all it may well be an extension of Iran just as Alaska is a part of USA.

by: malvina from: louisiana
July 31, 2013 1:16 AM
please read the books of jeremiam chapter32.where jeremiah paid 17 shekels of silver for the land that GOD gave to israel.for these last days its proof its israels land,theres a land deed buried in a clay vase in the holy land,where the recorders of the land deeds saved them.

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