Israeli-Palestinian peace talks start

15 August 2013

Talks met with scepticism as Israel announces settlement expansion

Peace talks between Israel and Palestine began today in Jerusalem after a five-year halt in the US-sponsored negotiations. Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni will be meeting Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat and talks are being moderated by US envoy Martin Indyk.

It is the third time since 2000 that peace talks are being held to discuss border adjustments and land swaps among other points. But as both sides reluctantly enter the negotiations, signs are already appearing that they may be cut short.

A top Palestinian official says that the likelihood of a successful outcome is threatened following Israel’s announcement of more than 900 settlement units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which has sparked outrage among Palestinians. Both the US and the EU have condemned the expansion of the settlements.

“The talks might collapse any time because of the Israeli practices,” Yasser Abed Rabbo, an adviser of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told a local radio station.

On 13 August Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners as a sign of goodwill, the first of four releases scheduled. Around 4,500 Palestinians are currently being held in Israeli jails.

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