[QODLink]
Middle East

Israel-Palestinian peace talks resume

First substantive talks in five years get under way in Jerusalem as Israel releases 26 Palestinian prisoners.

Last Modified: 15 Aug 2013 04:36
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Israel freed Palestinian inmates detained between 1985 and 2001, many for deadly attacks on Israelis [AFP]

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have reconvened US-brokered peace talks in Jerusalem amid low expectations, and dogged by plans for more Jewish settler homes on occupied land.

An Israeli official, who declined to be named and who was briefed on Wednesday's talks that were held at an undisclosed Jerusalem location, described them as serious and said the parties agreed to meet again soon.

No details were given on the subject matter of the talks. The parties have agreed to refrain from revealing information in order to raise the chances for success, officials said.

On Wednesday, Israel freed 26 Palestinians jailed between 1985 and 2001, many for deadly attacks on Israelis.

Their release, coupled with President Mahmoud Abbas's dropping of a demand for a settlement freeze before talks could begin, helped to pave the way towards negotiations.

The resumption of negotiations, after a first round in Washington last month that ended a three-year standoff over Jewish settlement building, followed Palestinian celebrations overnight.

'Hourglass is running out'

Optimism was in short supply before the first official meeting in Jerusalem in nearly five years.

"Israel will resort to feints and evasion and put up impossible demands in order to say that these negotiations are fruitless and to continue its policy of stealing land as it has done until this moment," said Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Palestinian official tasked by Abbas to comment on the talks.

Both for the Palestinians and for us [Israelis], the hourglass is running out

Yaakov Peri, Israeli cabinet minister,

Israel has published plans for 3,100 new settler homes in recent days, drawing US and other international concern and deepening Palestinian distrust.

Tzipi Livni, Israel's chief peace negotiator and justice minister, said on her Facebook page before the teams met:

"Today, I will continue the important mission I began - to achieve a peace agreement that will keep the country Jewish and democratic and provide security ... for Israel and its citizens."

Israeli cabinet minister Yaakov Peri said a "long and exhausting trek" lay ahead.

"Both for the Palestinians and for us, the hourglass is running out. We will not have many more opportunities to resolve this dispute," Peri told Army Radio.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has set a goal of nine months for an agreement to be reached.

399

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.