WASHINGTON, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- The Israelis and Palestinians will start their second and third rounds of peace talks after they resumed the talks in Washington late July, which had broken down in 2010 due to an expansion of Jewish settlement activities on occupied Palestinian lands.
The two sides will have their second round of peace talks in Jerusalem on Aug. 14 and then a third in Jericho of the West Bank, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday.
"Negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians will be resuming on Aug. 14 in Jerusalem, and will be followed by a meeting in Jericho," spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters at a daily press briefing.
She said U.S. peace envoy Martin Indyk and his deputy Frank Lowenstein will travel to the region to "help facilitate" the negotiations, and Secretary of State John Kerry will not make any announcement after the talks.
The Palestinians and Israelis agreed to meet further to discuss all the final status issues -- Jerusalem, security, the Jewish settlements, borders and refugees, after their chief negotiators met late last month in Washington for two-day initial talks.
Kerry said after the initial talks that the United States and the parties seek to "achieve a final-status agreement over the course of the next nine months" through direct negotiations.
The last direct talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas lasted only three weeks before they fell apart in September 2010 over squabbles on settlement building in the West Bank.
After months of intensive U.S. mediation, the Palestinians and Israelis finally restarted in Washington their peace talks, for which the U.S. has proposed a nine-month deadline for them to reach a permanent peace agreement to end their decades-long conflicts.
U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday hailed the resumed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks as "a promising step forward," but acknowledged "hard work and hard choices" ahead.
In the talks, the Palestinians demand a complete cessation of Jewish settlement construction on their lands occupied by Israel, the latter's recognition of a future Palestinian state in accordance with pre-1967 borders and the release of prisoners arrested before the 1993 Oslo accords were signed.
The Gaza Strip, the West Bank and east Jerusalem, were occupied by Israel during the six-day Arab-Israeli war in June 1967. Israel pulled out from Gaza in 2005 and evacuated around 20 settlements. The enclave was seized by Hamas who routed forces loyal to Abbas in 2007.
Israeli cabinet had approved the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners who were locked up prior to the Oslo Accords in 1993 before the two sides resumed the peace talks in Washington late July.
Hani Habib, a Gaza political analyst, told Xinhua that the ongoing negotiations "have nothing to do with the Gaza Strip."
"If we assume that Israel ends its military occupation of the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the frame of a permanent peace agreement after nine months of talks, the fate of the Gaza Strip will remain undecided because Hamas opposes any peace agreement," said Habib.
The Palestinians in Gaza voiced their concerns that Hamas, which adopts an extreme ideology toward reconciliation with Fatah, may be an obstacle in the establishment of a future independent Palestinian state.
The Gazan people, impoverished by the Israeli siege, do not believe that the current peace talks, which are sponsored by Israel's ally, the United States, will lead to a permanent agreement within nine months.
According to the observers, Hamas, one offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, is facing troubles after the global group was stripped off power in Egypt in early July when the military ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
The only thing that Hamas still believes in is its armed resistance against Israel. It opposes the resumption of the talks because its leaders fear that any permanent peace deal would certainly end its resistance movement.
Sami Abu Zurhi, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, told Xinhua that the current talks "are giving the Israeli occupation more excuses to keep swallowing our land and uproot our people."
"The resumption of talks is a violation of the Palestinian national consensus... There has to be a strategy agreed upon by all Palestinian political powers and factions," said Abu Zuhri, opposing the unilateral decision by Abbas to "undermine" the Palestinian cause.
JERUSALEM, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- Only one in five Israelis believe that the current round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians will bear fruit, a poll revealed on Tuesday.
The Israel Democracy Institute's Peace Index poll is a monthly public poll, which started in June 1994 and tracks down the common trends in the public opinion in regard to various aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Full story
GAZA, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- If any peace agreement was reached between Israel and the Palestinians in nine months as set by the United States, the fate of the Gaza Strip would remain uncertain due to the ongoing division between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party and Islamic Hamas movement who controls the enclave, analysts say.
After months of intensive U.S. mediation, the Palestinians and Israel recently restarted in Washington their peace talks which had broken down in October 2010 due to an expansion of Jewish settlement activities on occupied Palestinian lands. Full story
JERUSALEM, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Israel will not sign with the EU any agreement inapplicable on the lands it occupied in a 1967 war with the Palestinians, a move defying the bloc's new guidelines that ban funding any entity in such territories, an Israeli official confirmed to Xinhua on Thursday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a meeting with top ministers over the EU guidelines on Thursday, while Israeli and EU representatives discussed a scientific cooperation project that could include an investment of 600,000 euros (803,160 U.S. dollars) in Israeli high-tech companies.Full story
JERUSALEM, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have formed a new brigade to deal with national emergencies, the army announced Wednesday in a statement.
The brigade comprises four existing Home Front Command's search- and-rescue battalions. As a centralized operations center, the brigade will coordinate the activities of the four battalions in dealing with mass casualty incidents, including missile strikes launched on multiple fronts, chemical and biological weapons and natural disasters. Full story