U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced Friday that the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority have “established a basis” for restarting peace negotiations.
“This is a significant and and welcome step forward,” Kerry said, though adding that “the agreement is still in the process of being formalized.”
Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat are expected to meet next week in Washington to advance the talks, according to news reports.
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Kerry spent several days negotiating with Israeli and Palestinian leaders before making the announcement, adding that he plans to assemble a Washington meeting between all parties as soon as possible. This marks the first time since 2010 that the parties will negotiate directly.
The agreement comes on the heels of a decision by the European Union to issue a directive to all of its member nations that bans cooperation with Israel in Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights, all territories acquired by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) said in a statement that it has been “supportive of Secretary Kerry’s efforts to achieve direct bilateral talks,” commending Kerry’s “determined hard work and commitment.”
“We hope that these discussions will lead to successful negotiations,” AIPAC said.
American Jewish Committee (AJC) Executive Director David Harris said, “We admire Secretary Kerry’s determined efforts to bring the parties back to the negotiating table… In the end, it is the negotiating table, not the corridors of the United Nations or the EU hallways in Brussels, that is the path to a durable outcome so many of us seek.”
“We believe that this is a moment of ripeness and are gratified that the Palestinian Authority has agreed to return to the negotiation table to engage in good faith,” Barry Curtiss-Lusher, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said in a joint statement.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP that the terrorist group in control of the Gaza Strip “considers the Palestinian Authority’s return to negotiations with the occupation to be at odds with the national consensus.”