Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Talks open in new Mideast peace bid

Israelis and Palestinians have opened their first formal peace talks in the region in nearly five years, in a new push to end decades of conflict.

The two sides, seeking to maintain secrecy around their talks, said little about the meeting.

The Israeli government released a brief video showing the chief negotiators, Yitzhak Molcho and Tzipi Livni of Israel and Saeb Erekat of the Palestinians, shaking hands in an undisclosed location. An Israeli official would only say the meeting took place in Jerusalem.

The meeting capped months of intense diplomacy by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who has visited the region six times since taking office in a push to restart talks.

Both sides have low expectations as they head into the third attempt since 2000 to agree on the terms of creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

The meeting came hours after Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners in a bid to bring the Palestinians back to the table. Israel is expected to free a total of 104 long-serving prisoners as the talks progress in the coming months.

The talks have already been clouded by Israeli plans to build more than 3,000 new homes in Jewish settlements on occupied land sought for the Palestinian state.

Ahead of the meeting, a senior Palestinian official, Yasser Abed Rabbo, warned the talks could collapse at "any time" over Israeli settlement building. Hard-line Israeli politicians have vowed to fight any major concessions made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Deputy Defence Minister Danny Danon, from Mr Netanyahu's Likud Party, said such an agreement "will not win support, not just from me, but also from the Likud and, I think, most of the nation."

The Palestinians want a state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in 1967.

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph