Negotiations on Palestinian statehood resumed in July after a
three-year halt, with a nine-month target set for a permanent peace
agreement, amid deep skepticism a deal could be achieved to end the
"We are attempting to achieve a framework for a continuation of
negotiations for a period exceeding the nine months in which some
thought that we would be able to reach a permanent agreement,"
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told reporters.
"It is clear there are big gaps — they are not new — but it is
definitely in our interest to continue the talks," he said in
broadcast remarks, without defining the differences.
The United States is trying to broker a "framework" of general
guidelines — addressing core issues such as borders, security, the
future of Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem — with
details to be filled in later.
Before wrapping up his 10th visit to the region on Monday, Kerry
said the two sides were making progress but there was still a chance
no accord would be reached.
Dan Shapiro, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, said on Tuesday that
Kerry would return soon to continue his talks with Israeli and
"We will take into account the suggestions, the requests and wishes
of the parties and I hope and we will work so that in a few weeks,
or perhaps a month — I don't know how long — we will be ready to
present a proposal for a framework on all the core issues," Shapiro
said in Hebrew.
A senior Palestinian official said the Palestinian side was seeking
a written framework agreement.
"We want it to address concrete issues, such as saying the
Palestinian capital will be 'East Jerusalem', not just 'in
Jerusalem'," the official said.
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Palestinians seek to establish a state in the occupied West Bank and
in the Gaza Strip, an enclave now controlled by Hamas Islamists
opposed to the U.S. peace effort, with East Jerusalem as its
capital. Israel captured the areas in the 1967 Middle East war and
pulled troops and settlers out of Gaza in 2005.
In his remarks, Yaalon signaled that Israel was looking for a less
rigid "framework" deal than Palestinians were seeking, in an
apparent nod to concerns any formal agreement now could stoke
opposition from hardline members of the Israeli government.
"We are not dealing with a framework agreement, but with a framework
for the continuation of negotiations for a more lengthy period,"
Shapiro said that Kerry has sat for "many, many hours" with Israeli
and Palestinian leaders and has heard from them things that "perhaps
nobody else has heard".
"Even though they have already taken brave decisions, he estimates
they both have the ability to take more hard decisions with the
support of their respective peoples," Shapiro said.
(Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta in Ramallah;
editing by Angus MacSwan)
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