Palestinians and Israelis to resume stalled peace talks

Major breakthrough after months of intense US diplomatic pressure on both sides

US secretary of state John Kerry announced an agreement has been reached on the resumption of peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/Reuters

US secretary of state John Kerry announced an agreement has been reached on the resumption of peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/Reuters

Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 21:43




In a dramatic breakthrough in Middle East peace efforts, US secretary of state John Kerry last night announced an agreement has been reached on the resumption of peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Mr Kerry, speaking in the Jordanian capital, Amman, where he flew after talks in Ramallah with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, noted the details are still being finalised. He confirmed the opening round of talks would take place in Washington.

Mr Kerry delayed his departure to tie up the last parts of a package marking a major breakthrough after months of intense US diplomatic pressure on both sides.

According to Palestinian labour minister Ahmed Majdalani, the US package envisages six to nine months of negotiations focusing on borders and security arrangements.

He said Mr Kerry would endorse the 1967 West Bank border as the starting point of negotiations and assured the Palestinians that Israel would free some 350 prisoners over the coming months.

The prisoners would include 100 veteran detainees that Israel convicted of crimes committed before interim accords were signed in 1993. Israel has refused to free these prisoners in the past because many had “blood on their hands”, meaning they were convicted of deadly attacks.


EU guidelines
In a separate development, the European Union yesterday published new guidelines explicitly banning any EU funding of and co-operation with Israeli institutions operating in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

The new directive will take effect at the start of 2014 and was implemented despite pleas from Israeli leaders to delay the move, fearing it would have a negative impact on peace efforts and encourage the Palestinians to adopt hardline positions.

The measure also requires any future agreements between Israel and the EU to include a clause in which Israel accepts the European Union’s position that all territory over the 1967 green line border does not belong to Israel.