07/29/2013, 00.00
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An iftar to break the fast and silence between Israel and Palestine

Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas resume talks after a three-year hiatus with a Muslim meal. The release of one hundred Palestinians from Israeli prisons reopens negotiations between the two governments. In Washington, the two leaders will discuss ways to tackle over the next months the main issues, namely Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees and the settlements.

Washington (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Peace talks are set to resume between Israel and Palestine. Tonight in Washington, US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet diplomatic delegations from two countries after sunset for an iftar meal to mark the breaking of daily fast performed during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

The initial talks would be to chart a way forward rather than try to tackle the thorny issues between the two sides. The statement comes a day after Israel decided to free 204 Palestinian prisoners. By a vote of 13 to 7, the Israeli cabinet yesterday decided to release 100 prisoners sentenced for killing Israeli citizens, followed by another 104 in the coming months.

"This moment is not easy for me, not easy for the ministers, and especially not easy for the bereaved families," Netanyahu's office quoted him as telling ministers. "But there are moments in which tough decisions must be made for the good of the country and this is one of those moments."

Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees and settlements are the three main issues of the talks, frozen since September 2010.

The issue of settlements looms especially large. In fact, the Israeli cabinet also approved a bill that would require a referendum for a peace treaty. If adopted, the law would force the Israeli government to poll its citizens in cases where territory over which Israel claims sovereignty is ceded.

For Secretary Kerry, who travelled to the region five times in the last six months, the meeting represents a major achievement both for relations between the two countries and for US diplomatic role in region.

"Both leaders have demonstrated a willingness to make difficult decisions that have been instrumental in getting to this point. We are grateful for their leadership," Kerry said in a statement.


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