Israel and Palestine are attempting to resume peace talks after a long, history filled battle. According to 2 Palestinian officials, President Mahmoud Abbas only agreed to resume talks after the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, gave Abbas a letter stating that the foundation of the negotiations will be on Israel’s pre-1967 borders but this was later denied by a Western official.
The US letter also required that both sides are to abstain from any steps that will “jeopardize” the peace talks. Israel is forbidden from issuing new proposals for Jewish settlements in the West Bank while the Palestinians are not allowed to pursue diplomatic relations against Israel with any International Organization.
The peace talks involving Kerry were about to fall apart but Kerry’s letter came as a “lifeline” in last minute bargaining. US officials have stated in the past that Kerry would reiterate standing American positions on the goals for renewed talks which include the fact that a Palestinian state should be negotiated on the basis of pre-1967 borders before the 6 Days War, where Israel captured the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem. However, the anonymous Western official said that there are no terms of reference or agreements that the 1967 lines will be the basis for negotiations.
Kerry announced that Israel and Palestine had agreed on a basis for returning to the peace process that broke down a few years ago. The 2 sides are supposed to meet to work out final details on actually resuming peace talks, especially on the toughest issues such as lands taken in the 6 Days War in 1967 .
Energy and Water Minister, Silvan Shalom Jericho, the head of the Palestinian negotiating team, said talks resumed Tuesday July 30. He announced it to a press conference where he attended with the Jordan interior minister and Palestinian planning minister also present.
Tzipi Lvini, Israeli negotiator with the Palestinians, will also be present for said negotiations along with Isaac Molho, personal envoy to the Palestinian Prime Minister. John Kerry, representing the US, will be there for the talks as well. The negotiations are expected to last 9 months and to open with discussions of both the borders of the Palestinian state and Israel’s security demands.
In advance of the meeting, the Israeli cabinet approved the release of 82 Palestinian prisoners who were involved in attacks against Israel and who have been in prison since the “pre-Oslo Accords” time. The prisoners are expected to be released in groups of 4 over 8 to 9 months. At the same cabinet meeting, the ministers are also going to approve a bill that would require a national referendum over any peace agreement with the Palestinians.
It is wonderful that Israel and Palestine are resuming negotiations but I have little hope that they will resolve their dispute in a timely or diplomatic fashion. Historically, both groups have been fighting over land and settlements since ancient times and it seems unlikely that Israel will be willing to give back land they have held since 1967. I also always wonder, how these constant negotiations and warring affect the people who live in these places. For instance, do people from Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem want to become part of Palestine again or have they begun to adapt to their Israeli-run government? Who stands up for the people who are victims of this constant battle for land between Israel and Palestine?