- (Photo: Reuters)
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will gather in Washington, D.C. on Monday and Tuesday to re-start peace talks after nearly three years, thanks in large part to the diplomatic efforts of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
"Both leaders have demonstrated a willingness to make difficult decisions that have been instrumental in getting to this point," Kerry said in the statement regarding the peace talks. "We are grateful for their leadership."
Monday's meeting serves as a new beginning for the talks that abruptly ended in 2010 regarding territory in the Middle East, where Palestine is seeking statehood on Israeli-occupied land.
The new efforts at diplomacy have been described by the state department as addressing "final status" issues between Israel and Palestine which has caused an ongoing riff for decades.
"The meetings in Washington will mark the beginning of these talks," Kerry spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, as reported by NBC News. "They will serve as an opportunity to develop a procedural work plan for how the parties can proceed with the negotiations in the coming months."
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Molcho will be representing Israel at Monday's talks, while Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat and Mohammad Shtayyeh will represent the Palestinians.
Prior to the talks, Israel agreed to release 104 long-term Palestinian prisoners who had been convicted of deadly attacks. However, the offering has been seen as more of an offering to begin the peace talks, and it has been reported that the release of the prisoners will be linked to the progress of the talks. That means many of the prisoners could well remain behind bars depending on the progress made at the negotiations this week.
Nevertheless, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the release of the prisoners as "painful for the bereaved families, it is painful for the entire nation, and it is also very painful for me."
The goal of Palestine in the peace talks is to have boundaries set up for their state which include the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.