Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have set a goal to strike an agreement within nine months for a viable two-state solution to end their historic conflict, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, on Tuesday, at a news conference after two days of talks between the parties in Washington, D.C.
“The parties have agreed to remain engaged in sustained, continuous, and substantive negotiations on the core issues, and they will meet within the next two weeks in either Israel or the Palestinian Territories in order to begin the process of formal negotiation,” Kerry said.
“And they are on the table with one simple goal: a view to ending the conflict, ending the claims. Our objective will be to achieve a final status agreement over the course of the next nine months.”
Kerry said President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met with the lead negotiators -- Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian official Saeb Erekat -- earlier on Tuesday at the White House.
Kerry said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas demonstrated “courageous leadership” to launch the talks and lauded the “tough choices that they made in terms of the politics at home.”
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Kerry said that the content of the negotiations would be confidential and that he would be the only authorized official to comment publicly on the talks, in consultation with the negotiators.
A breakthrough in talks, Kerry said, would transform the Palestinian economy by building up markets and attracting foreign investment, adding: “And we shouldn’t forget that the new jobs, the new homes, the new industries that can grow in a new Palestinian state will also benefit Israelis next door, where a vibrant economy will find new partners.”
Kerry said the U.S. has been working closely with both nations to help develop their security capacities, and that the talks ultimately aimed to achieve peace between Israel, and all Arab and Muslim nations, by ending attacks on Israel’s legitimacy.
“I also want to point out that the Arab League understands this too, which is why it has reaffirmed the Arab Peace Initiative and provided vital statements of support for this process,” Kerry said.