Palestinians, Israel to resume peace talks on Monday after 2010 breakdown

Palestinians, Israel to resume peace talks on Monday after 2010 breakdown
# 29 July 2013 18:46 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Palestinian and Israeli chief negotiators are meeting later on Monday in Washington to prepare for the renewal of their peace talks that were suspended in October 2010 due to Israel's expansion of settlement activities on occupied Palestinian lands, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

Nabil Abu Rdeineh, spokesman of the Palestinian presidency, said in a press statement that the meeting is aiming to develop a practical plan for both sides to achieve progress within the next few months."

A well-informed Palestinian source told Xinhua that the meeting "is to tackle the basics and the references for resuming the peace negotiations with Israel based on (U.S. Secretary of State John) Kerry's vision and proposals."

"The Palestinian team will stress the need to approve the principle of the two-state solution in accordance with pre-1967 borders with slight territorial swaps, freeze the (Jewish) settlement activities and release old prisoners in order to guarantee progress in the negotiations," said the source.

It said Israel's positive response to these demands "will be a positive indication that will decide the fate of the negotiations within the next few months amid a full U.S. sponsorship."

Meanwhile, Israel Radio reported that the first Israeli- Palestinian round of talks will define the frame of the permanent status talks that will last for nine months in accordance with previous understandings.

The talks broke down in October 2010, only one month after they had been launched in Washington, when the Palestinians left the negotiating table in protest against Israel's renewal of settlement activities in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

The United States had sponsored several rounds of exploratory talks between the two sides in Jordan since January 2012. But these meetings yielded little results due to Israel's continuance of building thousands of houses into Jewish settlements.

Under the intense mediating efforts of Kerry, who has visited the Middle East region sixth times since taking office in February, the Palestinians and Israel agreed to return to the negotiating table earlier this month.

Just few days before the resumption of the talks, Israel decided to free 104 Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture to the Palestinians, who, however, said the actual release of the prisoners would be after three or four weeks.

Eassa Qaraqea, the Palestinian minister of prisoners' affairs in the West Bank, told "Voice of Palestine" that a joint Israeli- Palestinian committee will be soon formed to prepare for the release of the prisoners.

He expressed rejection to the idea that these prisoners should be expelled from the Palestinian territories. "All of them will go to their homes in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem."

Since the first launch of the peace process between the two sides in 1993, around 13,352 Palestinian prisoners have been released, according to the Palestinian official figure. But Qaraqea said there are still about 4,700 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

Meanwhile, Islamic Hamas movement, who controls the Palestinian coastal enclave of Gaza, still opposes the resumption of the peace negotiations with Israel.

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in an emailed statement that the decision of the Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank "is unilateral and can never express the general attitude and aspirations of the Palestinian people" and "Resuming the talks will harm the Palestinian cause."