Israel’s pre-1967 borders will be the basis of renewed peace talks between Palestine and Israel, according to a letter U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gave to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas which guaranteed the stipulation.
After Abbas received the Kerry letter, he agreed to resume peace talks with Israel, two senior Palestinian officials said on Shabbos.
The officials, both of whom are close to the Palestinian leader and privy to internal discussions, said the U.S. letter also stipulated that both sides are to refrain from taking any steps that would jeopardize the outcome of the talks.
Israel is not to issue new tenders for Jewish settlements in the West Bank, while the Palestinians are not to pursue diplomatic action against Israel at any international organizations, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief the media.
“The talks with Kerry were about to collapse, and the letter came as a lifeline in the last minute bargaining,” one of the Palestinian officials said.
There was no immediate comment from the State Department, but U.S. officials have said in the past that Kerry would reiterate standing American positions on the goals for renewed talks, including that a Palestinian state should be negotiated on the basis of Israel’s borders before the 1967 Mideast war, when Israel captured the Gaza Strip, West Bank and east Jerusalem.
After a round of intense shuttle diplomacy, Kerry announced on Friday that Israel and the Palestinians had agreed on a basis for returning to the peace process, which broke down five years ago. The two sides are to meet – likely in the coming week – to work out final details on actually resuming their negotiations on the toughest issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Kerry would not give details on the agreement on the negotiations’ framework. “The best way to give these negotiations a chance is to keep them private.” he said. “We know that the challenges require some very tough choices in the days ahead. Today, however, I am hopeful.”
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