Livni on Peace Talks: It Won't be Easy
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Israel’s negotiator in talks with the Palestinian Authority, said Monday that peace talks would be "very tough" but insisted they were necessary because of the growing troubles in the Middle East, reported AFP.
"It is going to be very tough and problematic," Livni told reporters after meeting United Nations leader Ban Ki-moon and before going to Washington for the start of preliminary talks.
Livni said Israel was "hopeful" about the U.S.-brokered talks and confirmed that terrorist prisoners would be released during the negotiations as agreed with the United States and the PA leadership.
The peace effort is "a mutual interest for Israel, for the Palestinians, the Arab world, the international community," Livni said.
"It is quite a responsibility. It is going to be complicated I am sure, but I believe that when we see our troubled region, what we can do is to change the future of generations to come by having peace between Israel and the Palestinians."
Livni said she was happy that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had appointed a former ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk as special envoy for the peace talks.
"I congratulate him," she said. "Well I don't know whether to congratulate him because it is going to be very tough and problematic but he is talented enough to face all these challenges and he is familiar with the conflict.
"I know that he is also quite enthusiastic to solve the conflict so we are going with him and are glad to work with him," said Livni, according to AFP.
UN leader Ban "expressed his strong support for the resumption of credible negotiations to achieve the two-state solution and his appreciation for the recent courageous decision of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in this regard," said a UN spokesman in reference to the Israeli cabinet voting on Sunday to release 104 terrorist prisoners as a “gesture” to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
"He stressed the importance of creating an environment conducive to the resumption of talks, and encouraged both sides to take further positive steps in this regard," the spokesman added, according to AFP.
The State Department said on Monday that the Israeli and PA delegations have agreed in principle to continue negotiations for at least nine months.
"They have all agreed to focus on having talks not just for the sake of talks, but this is the beginning of direct final status negotiations on a nine-month, at least a nine-month, timetable," Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, according to AFP.
"They have agreed to work together through the course of that time," she added, speaking as the delegations arrived in Washington ahead of a dinner to mark the resumption of talks.
Psaki said the nine-month window was "not a deadline."
"This is an agreement that they will work together for at least that time period on this effort," she said.
"So we're going to make every effort to reach an agreement within that time frame, but again, if we're making progress and we're continuing to make progress, this is not a deadline."
President Barack Obama welcomed the imminent start of renewed peace talks between Israel and the PA on Monday, but urged both sides to approach them with honesty.
"The most difficult work of these negotiations is ahead, and I am hopeful that both the Israelis and Palestinians will approach these talks in good faith," he said.