Skip to main content

Israelis, Palestinians react to agreement on resuming peace talks

By CNN Staff
July 19, 2013 -- Updated 2319 GMT (0719 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Palestinian Authority says "if things go well," talks could begin in Washington in "coming days"
  • "Four years of political stagnation are coming to an end," Israel's justice minister says
  • Hamas in Gaza dismisses peace negotiations as "useless"
  • A report says peace formula involves a landmark concession from Israel

(CNN) -- The long-dormant Middle East peace efforts got new life on Friday.

An agreement has been reached that "establishes a basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between" Palestinians and Israel, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Amman, Jordan.

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

This came as Kerry visited the Middle East this week and came up with a formula for reanimating peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian territories, a source close to the talks said.

He has been working intensely with the Palestinian side to get them on board.

Earlier Friday, in a meeting in Amman, Jordan, Kerry presented the plan to Palestinian chief peace negotiator Saeb Erakat in hopes that it will entice the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.

Kerry arrived in Ramallah in the West Bank on Friday afternoon and began a meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas for the third time during his current trip to the Middle East.

New city offers vision of better life in West Bank

CORRECTION
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated who controlled East Jerusalem in the years immediately prior to the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War. East Jerusalem was under Jordan's control when it was taken over by Israel in the 1967 war.

Talks could begin soon in Washington, according to the official Palestinian Authority news agency, Wafa, which quoted the authority's spokesman, Nabil abu Rudaineh.

Abu Rudaineh said "certain details" were still in need of solutions, but "if things go well, Kerry will extend an invitation to Saeb Erekat and the representative of the Israeli side, to meet him in Washington, to hold primary talks in the coming few days."

Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni lauded the prospect of peace.

"These past few months were long, filled with doubt and cynicism," Livni said in a statement. "But now, four years of political stagnation are coming to an end.

"I know that, despite this being an opportunity, once the negotiations begin they will be complex -- but I am convinced with all my heart that this is the right thing for our future, our security, our economy and Israel's values," Livni said.

She expressed respect for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "for making the decisions representing Israel's important interests, as well for American Secretary of State, John Kerry, which led us and the Palestinians into the negotiations room."

In the Palestinian territory of Gaza, however, Hamas dismissed the renewed effort for peace talks.

2011: Why no Middle East peace talks?

"This negotiation will be useless. It is not going to achieve anything for the Palestinian people. It will not help the prisoner issue, the border issue or the land issue," the group said in a statement. Israel imposed an economic blockade on Gaza shortly after Hamas was elected to run the Gaza government in 2006.

Kerry said the agreement is still in the process of being formalized, so "we are absolutely not going to talk about the elements now," he said. If everything goes as expected, representatives for the two sides will join Kerry in Washington "for initial talks within the next week or so, and a further announcement will be made by all of us at that time."

"Any speculation or reports you may read in the media ... are conjecture ... because the people who know the facts are not talking about them," he said.

Talks based on land swaps, pre-1967 borders?

One of the reports Kerry might have been referencing was a Reuters report quoting an Israeli official who said the Jewish state agreed to a plan for peace talks based on pre-1967 borders and land swaps.

It would be in line with a decades-old United Nations resolution calling on Israel to release territories it gained during a war, a demand that Israel has historically fought. But it would help create contiguous borders for a future Palestinian state that would coexist next to a Jewish state.

Israel's official reaction to the report has been denial. Mark Regev, a spokesman for Netanyahu, rejected the news agency story and questioned who in the government would have made the assertions.

Kerry had set up shop in Amman, Jordan, where he has already advertised the plan to the Arab League and to Abbas. Abbas briefed politicians in Ramallah after returning from his initial meetings with Kerry.

News of the plan triggered a reaction Friday from Mustafa Barghouti, a prominent Palestinian legislator.

"We need written commitments that there are terms of reference including commitment to 1967 borders. We need affirmation or guarantees that there will be no settlement expansions," he said. Other Palestinians would not accept negotiations as long as they continued to grow, he added.

Israel has recently announced plans to add on to West Bank settlements, drawing angry responses from Palestinians and criticism from Israel's Western allies.

The major bones of contention in negotiations are:

• The status of Jerusalem. Israel regards the entire city as its capital. The Palestinians regard East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

• Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The land is known as Judea and Samaria in Jewish history, and Israelis say they believe that territory is part of the Jewish state. The Palestinians say the West Bank is Palestinian land. They also say they've been mistreated in their own land for years by Israel's government, the military and settlers.

• Security. Israel has said it wants to be assured of the safety of its citizens from attacks by Palestinian militants in any peace agreement.

• The status of the Palestinians, who mostly departed Israel during two wars: one that led to the state's founding in 1948, and one in 1967. Palestinians say they were driven out.

War spoils

Israel took over East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai and the Golan Heights after it defeated Arab states in the Six-Day War in 1967. In a series of moves following its capture, Israel effectively annexed East Jerusalem, putting it and other adjacent areas in the West Bank under Israeli government control.

Since then, Israel has forged a peace treaty with Egypt and returned Sinai to the country. It later unilaterally departed from Gaza, now run by Hamas.

Israel occupies the Palestinian territory of the West Bank and part of Syria's Golan Heights.

For years, Israel and the Palestinian Authority have made attempts to negotiate, but have repeatedly failed to get the process moving.

A sporting push for peace in Israeli-Palestinian relations

CNN's Kareem Khadder and Michael Schwartz contributed from Jerusalem; Talal Abu Rahma from Gaza; Jason Hanna, Ben Brumfield, and Joe Sterling wrote and reported from Atlanta. Michael Martinez also contributed.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0254 GMT (1054 HKT)
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0024 GMT (0824 HKT)
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1844 GMT (0244 HKT)
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1706 GMT (0106 HKT)
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 0822 GMT (1622 HKT)
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 2100 GMT (0500 HKT)
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
December 21, 2014 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1701 GMT (0101 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT