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Mideast Peace Talks Commence

Secretary of State John Kerry stands between Israel's Justice Minister and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni, right, and Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, as they shake hands after the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, July 30, 2013.

Israeli and Palestinian representatives met this week in Washington to start direct, bilateral negotiations

Israeli and Palestinian representatives met this week in Washington to start direct, bilateral negotiations. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was instrumental in bringing the two sides together, said the talks, which would cover all core issues, had the goal of reaching a final status agreement in nine months. The United States would serve as a facilitator for the two parties throughout the process.

Mideast Peace Talks Commence
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Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat agreed to meet again in the region within the next two weeks.

At a press briefing, Secretary of State Kerry praised the courageous leadership of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas:

“We’re here today because the Israeli people and the Palestinian people BOTH have leaders willing to heed the call of history, leaders who will stand strong in the face of criticism – and are right now - for what they know is in their peoples’ best interests.”

Mr. Kerry acknowledged the great challenges ahead. But, he said, “We cannot lose sight of something that is often forgotten in the Middle East:

“Reasonable, principled compromise in the name of peace means that everybody stands to gain. Each side has a stake in the other’s success, and everyone can benefit from the dividends of peace.”

Mr. Kerry said it is possible to “envision a day when Palestinians can finally realize their aspirations for a flourishing state of their own. . .And we shouldn’t forget that the new jobs, the new homes, the new industries that can grow in a new Palestinian state will also benefit Israelis next door, where a vibrant economy will find new partners.

“We can also envision a day when Israelis actually can truly live in peace,” said Mr. Kerry, “not just the absence of conflict, but a full and lasting peace with Arab and Muslim nations, an end once and for all to the pernicious attacks on Israel’s legitimacy. . .And we cannot forget that the security of Israel will also benefit Palestinians next door.”

Secretary of State Kerry said that a “viable two-state solution is the only way this conflict can end. We all need to be strong in our belief in the possibilities of peace, courageous enough to follow through on our faith in it, and audacious enough to achieve what these two people have so long aspired to and deserve.”