Kerry: Israelis and Palestinians establish ‘basis’ for renewed peace talks

( U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced Friday that the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority have reached an agreement that “establishes a basis” for restarting peace negotiations.

Click photo to download. Caption: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Credit: U.S. Department of State via Wikimedia Commons.

“This is a significant and welcome step forward," Kerry said.

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 this week. This marks the first time since 2010 that the parties plan to negotiate directly. 

Israel will be represented at the initial meeting by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Netanyahu's special envoy, Yitzhak Molcho. Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority, will represent the Palestinians.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee said in a statement, “We hope that these discussions will lead to successful negotiations.” 

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 areas acquired by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. 

American Jewish Committee (AJC) Executive Director David Harris said in a statement, “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.” 

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Agence France-Presse 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.”

Posted on July 19, 2013 .