WASHINGTON (AP) — Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will resume long-stalled direct peace talks on Monday following six months of frenetic shuttle diplomacy by Secretary of State John Kerry.
The State Department announced Sunday that the two sides had accepted invitations from Kerry to come to Washington "to formally resume direct final status negotiations." In a statement, department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the initial meetings would begin Monday evening and continue Tuesday.
She said Kerry had called both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday and said they agreed that the talks would "serve as an opportunity to develop a procedural work plan for how the parties can proceed with the negotiations in the coming months."
"Both leaders have demonstrated a willingness to make difficult decisions that have been instrumental in getting to this point," Kerry said in the statement. "We are grateful for their leadership."
Kerry had announced on July 19 in Amman, Jordan, that negotiators from the two sides would be coming to Washington in a "week or so" after having agreed on a basis for resuming negotiations after a five-year break. However, he warned that the agreement was still being formalized.
Sunday's carefully worded statement offered no details of the framework for the resumption of the talks that broke down five years ago, although both sides' positions are well known.
The statement was released shortly after the Israeli Cabinet agreed to release 104 long-term Palestinian prisoners convicted of deadly attacks, meeting a longstanding Palestinian demand.