Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said today he was “delighted” with the beginning of talks at the State Department as “all final-status issues are on the table and will be resolved without any exceptions.”
“And it’s time for the Palestinian people to have an independent sovereign state of their own,” Erekat said, thanking President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry “for your relentless efforts and unwavering commitment to achieve a just, a comprehensive, lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”
Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni said “the powerful impression left by the president’s last visit to Israel still remains in the hearts of the Israeli people.”
“You know, Saeb, we all spent some time in the negotiations room. We didn’t reach dead end in the past, but we didn’t complete our mission,” she said. “And this is something that we need to do now in these negotiations that we will launch today. And the opportunity has been created for us, for all of us, and we cannot afford to waste it.”
Kerry, appearing with Erekat and Livni, said the parties had “a very positive meeting with the president and the vice president earlier this morning at the White House.”
“I’m pleased to report that in the conversations we’ve had last night and again today, we had constructive and positive meetings, both meetings with the United States present and also meetings with the parties by themselves. 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.
“The parties have agreed here today that all of the final-status issues, all of the core issues, and all other issues are all on the table for negotiation, and they are on the table with one simple goal: a view to ending the conflict, ending the claims.”
Kerry said the goal is to arrive at a final-status agreement in confidential negotiations within the next nine months.
“We need to actually change the way we think about compromise in order to get to success. Compromise doesn’t only mean giving up something or giving something away. Reasonable, principled compromise in the name of peace means that everybody stands to gain. Each side has a stake in the other’s success, and everyone can benefit from the dividends of peace,” he said.
“…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 added.
“Israel and Israelis and Palestinians both have legitimate security concerns. Our commitment to Israel’s security is why President Obama’s administration has done more than any before it to strengthen our unshakeable bond and why General John Allen is on the ground working to ensure Israel’s security needs will be met. And I emphasize, we have worked very closely with our Palestinian friends to help develop Palestinian security capacity. And we cannot forget that the security of Israel will also benefit Palestinians next door.”