It’s been nearly three years, but the Israelis and Palestinians are heading back to the negotiating table. And John Kerry might be the reason why.
The secretary of state announced the agreement from Jordan on Friday, saying the two bodies will soon resume peace talks.
“We have reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis,” Kerry said, according to Reuters, adding, “the agreement is still in the process of being formalized.”
The last peace talks between the two parties broke down in 2010 because of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Those areas, along with the Gaza Strip, are where Palestinians are seeking statehood, often saying Israelis “occupy” the land.
Kerry didn’t give further details on the peace talks, but said that Israeli and Palestinian representatives will come to Washington and discuss a later announcement.
“The best way to give these negotiations a chance is to keep them private,” he continued. “We know that the challenges require some very tough choices in the days ahead. Today, however, I am hopeful.”
Kerry’s comments in Jordan came after a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah earlier on Friday. Apparently, before the meeting with Abbas started, Kerry told him, “Mr. President, you should look happy,” according to Haaretz.
Kerry has already spent a great deal of his short tenure at the State Department on the Middle East, which was one of his pet projects while in the Senate.
Haaretz has further details on possible Palestinian demands in talks:
A Palestinian source stated that the Palestinians are holding steadfast to a demand that Israel declare in writing that negotiations will be based on 1967 borders, and that they will not make do with an American declaration that does not require an Israeli commitment.
“The Palestinian leadership made clear on Thursday that it would not enter talks without clear guidelines, particularly on the border issue,” said the source. He added, “The Palestinian leadership refuses to accept the outline according to which the Palestinians will recognize Israel as a Jewish state.”