In recent months, tensions between Isreal and Palestine have been quite high despite recent breakthroughs like the release of prisoners by Isreal. However, after three years without peace-talks, Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in have been held in Jerusalem. The meeting, as confirmed by both sides, had ended late on Wednesday after several hours. One Israeli official described the peace talks as “long and serious”, though no statement was published. The peace talks began just hours after Israel freed 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of the deal to restart the stalled negotiations. These prisoners were described by some Palestinian officials to be imprisoned for political reasons. Very few details have been revealed to the public about the details of the meeting and both sides have been cautious about achieving a breakthrough.
While Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem have continued to overshadow the resumption, it has been confirmed by sources of the AP news agency said they had agreed to meet weekly, alternating between the holy city of Jerusalem and the West Bank town of Jericho.
The issue of settlements had halted the last direct talks in September 2010. Palestinian representatives have raised accusations that Israel is trying to sabotage the latest negotiations in the same way. To add salt to the wound, Israel has announced plans for more than 2,000 new settlement homes. The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) official Yasser Abed Rabbo has described the settlement expansion as “unprecedented”.
“The talks might collapse any time because of the Israeli practices,” Mr Rabbo has told Voice of Palestine radio. While others say there has also been scepticism on the Israeli side. The Jerusalem Post newspaper has recently reported reported “extremely low” expectations about the latest talks. The newspaper quoted Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon as saying: “We’ve been trying for 20 years since Oslo, and for over 120 years of the conflict. The scepticism in the tone of my remarks is apparent, but we’ve decided to give it a chance.” On the other hand, Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri asserted that an effort had to be made, adding: “We won’t have a lot more chances to solve this conflict.”
The aim of the talks will be to negotiate an sure resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict based on the so-called two-state solution – a Palestinian state existing alongside Israel.
Both sides have chosen their representatives for the talks, where the Palestinians are being represented by Saeb Erekat and Fatah official Muhammed Shtayyeh and the Isreali side is represented by Israeli Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni and prime ministerial aide Isaac Molcho.