Kerry: Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks Back On
by VOA News July 19, 2013
Israel and the Palestinians appear headed back to negotiations in hopes of settling long-standing differences.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made the announcement in Amman, Jordan, after returning from a trip to Ramallah and a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Kerry called the plan for preliminary talks a "significant and welcome step forward." He said while the agreement forms a basis for final status negotiations some details are still being worked out.
If all goes well, Palestinians and Israeli officials will travel to Washington for initial talks within the next week or two.
Kerry praised both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Abbas for making some difficult choices, saying "the representatives of two proud peoples today have decided that the difficult road ahead is worth traveling."
This is the sixth trip Kerry has made to the Middle East since becoming secretary of state earlier this year. He was originally scheduled to have flown back to the U.S. already. He extended his stay after sensing an agreement to restart talks was within reach.
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in 2010.
The White House says President Barack Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday to ask him to work with Kerry to "resume negotiations with the Palestinians as soon as possible."
Earlier this week, in Jordan, Kerry met with representatives of Arab states that support a comprehensive peace plan. He said many of the Arab League ministers told him "the core issue of instability in this region and in many other parts of the world is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict."
Kerry had been urging both Israel and the Palestinians to be cautious and to avoid any actions or statements that might undermine their progress.
At the time, he said the proposed plan aims to show both sides the benefits of peace, and in particular the impact some proposals could have on the Palestinian economy. He said programs being considered as part of the plan could reduce unemployment in the Palestinian territory 21 percent to 8 percent over the next three years while also doubling the GDP [Gross Domestic Product].
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