Historic Israel-Palestine Peace Talks Get Underway in DC

Mike O'Brien

Representatives of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are meeting in DC today (Monday) for historic peace talks.

The summit comes two decades after the two sides signed their first accord and three years after negotiations last broke down.

The representatives are scheduled to sit down this evening and tomorrow to hammer out a deal brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry after months of intense shuttle diplomacy.

Israeli President Shimon Peres said: "We want to establish a Palestinian state beside the state of Israel, living in peace and friendship and bringing an end to the conflict."

Benjamin Netanyahu (pictured) said the new peace effort will last nine months. His cabinet cleared the way for the resumption of talks when it voted yesterday to approve the release 104 Palestinian prisoners, a step long sought by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat welcomed Israel’s move, but added that thousands more Palestinian prisoners remain in Israeli jails and must be freed.

"We call upon Israel to seize the opportunity in order to put an end to decades of occupation and exile, and to start a new stage of justice, freedom and peace for Israel, Palestine and the rest of the region," Mr. Erekat said.