Middle East leaders hope talks will bring pact in a year
ISRAELI and Palestinian leaders agreed yesterday to keep talking and produce a framework for a permanent peace deal, amid deep skepticism about success at their first such session in two years.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet again on September 14 and 15 in the Middle East, likely at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik, with an eye towards forging the outline of a peace pact.
They will also meet roughly every two weeks after that.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who hosted the talks at the State Department, will attend the next round. In a public plea for both sides to compromise in the name of peace, Mrs Clinton said the Obama administration has no illusions about reaching a quick breakthrough.
"We've been here before and we know how difficult the road ahead will be," she said. "There undoubtedly will be obstacles and setbacks.
"Those who oppose the cause of peace will try in every way possible to sabotage this process, as we have already seen this week."
She was referring to Palestinian attacks on Israelis in the disputed West Bank on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The United States Mideast special envoy George Mitchell announced the developments after several hours of talks between Netanyahu and Abbas at which the two leaders pledged to work through the region's deeply ingrained mutual hostility and suspicion to resolve the long-running conflict in a year's time.
Mr Mitchell refused to discuss specifics of what the framework agreement would entail, but said it would lay out the "fundamental compromises" needed for a final settlement.
He was unclear about whether the one-year deadline applied to the framework agreement or a final peace treaty, only saying the goal was to "resolve all of the core issues within one year".
Though "less than a full-fledged treaty", Mitchell said the framework would "establish the fundamental compromises necessary to enable the parties to then flesh out and complete a comprehensive agreement that will end the conflict and establish a lasting peace".
The compromises will involve the thorniest issues that have dogged the parties for decades: the borders of an eventual Palestinian state, the political status of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees and security in the region.