Israeli and Palestinian leaders convened in Washington on Monday to restart peace talks following nearly three years of stalled negotiations. Talks are expected to continue in two weeks, working toward the ambitious goal of a peace deal Secretary of State John Kerry said leaders are hoping to reach within the next nine months.
It was announced on Sunday that talks would resume after Israel agreed to free more than 100 Palestinian prisoners. The two sides had not come to the table since 2010, when continued Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory brought negotiations to a halt.
A contentious point for both sides, Israeli settlements are expected to be a delicate issue in the upcoming negotiations.
Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren appeared on Andrea Mitchell Reports on Tuesday to discuss how negotiations have gone so far.
“Settlements are part of the territorial issue. Territory borders are going to be a core issue, security, and yes, Jerusalem will be a core issue,” Oren said.
“We’re willing and ready to discuss all of these very complex issues because we know that’s the only way to get to peace. Negotiations aren’t about negotiations. They’re actually about getting to the peace agreement that we all want,” he said.
Oren emphasized the importance of getting Israeli and Palestinian citizens on board and preparing them for what lies ahead.
“We’re willing to say there’s going to be pain on both sides, painful concessions,” he said.
Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erakat said on Tuesday that Palestinians must have a state of their own.
“It’s time for the Palestinians to live in peace, freedom and dignity with their own independent sovereign state,” he said in a news conference with Kerry and Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni Tuesday.
Livni acknowledged the hard road but sounded optimistic.
“It’s not our intention to argue about the past, but to create solutions and make decisions for the future,” she said.