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Top Israeli Negotiator: Restarting Talks “Can Recreate Hope” for Lasting Peace

Israeli officials this week expressed broad hopes that relaunching negotiations will enable a final status agreement that would see the creation of a viable Palestinian state alongside a secure Jewish state. Tzipi Livni, Jerusalem’s chief negotiator, acknowledged skepticism toward the talks and explained why it might be overcome:

“There is a lot of cynicism and skepticism and pessimism but there is also hope,” Livni told The Associated Press before heading to Washington for a dinner Monday evening with the Palestinians hosted by US Secretary of State John Kerry. “I believe that by relaunching the negotiations we can recreate hope for Israelis and Palestinians as well,” she said.

Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday echoed Livni’s evaluation, describing preliminary talks that had taken place in Washington, D.C. as “very positive.”

Kerry on Wednesday announced an ambitious nine month time table for achieving a final status agreement, a goal that some long-time observers of the Middle East consider unrealistic.

Michael Ratney, the U.S. consul general in Jerusalem, subsequently told reporters that while Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will now seek to close a peace deal in nine months, the date more of a target than a deadline:

Reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal within nine months is a target, not a deadline, a U.S. diplomat in Jerusalem said Wednesday, two days after the sides resumed negotiations and ended a five-year freeze.

During the talks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to visit the region “on a regular basis” to check on progress, said Michael Ratney, the U.S. consul general in Jerusalem. John Allen, a retired U.S. general, will work closely with the negotiators on security arrangements, Ratney said.

[Photo: Magnus Manske / Wiki Commons]