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Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks Begin Today: Top 10 Facts You Need to Know

Israeli Palestinian peace talks

John Kerry meets with Israeli President Shimon Peres (Getty)

This week Secretary of State John Kerry will be hosting Israeli and Palestinian delegations to reopen peace talks after a prolonged hiatus and decades of violence.

The teams will meet in Washington on Monday to discuss the terms for the talks and each sides demands and requests. There is criticism from both sides as factions within both the Israeli and Palestinian governments reject the talks.

Here is what you need to know about this important world event:


1. The Talks Are for ‘Final Status Negotiations’

As John Kerry begins the process of bringing both Israeli and Palestinian delegations together for the first time in three years, he announced in Jordan earlier this month that the purpose of these meetings are to settle the “final status” between the two nations.

This means both delegations are expected to come prepared to negotiate on their permanent national borders in what Kerry, in presumptuous fashion, is indicating will be the last negotiation of what many perceive to be a perpetual dispute.


2. Israel Will Release Palestinian Prisoners

Palestinian prisoners released

Crowds call for the release of Israeli-held Palestinian Prisoners. (Getty)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted on his official Facebook Page on Saturday that the Israeli government is willing to give in to a longstanding Palestinian demand to release 104 Palestinian prisoners if the peace talks go well. The proposal to release the prisoners passed the 22-person cabinet on Sunday with 13 yay votes, seven nays, and two abstentions, according to Al Jazeera. The official statement reads:

So I was not ready to accept the demand to release Palestinian prisoners before the negotiations. Yes agreed to free 104 Palestinians in the rhythmic after negotiation and depending on the circumstances of the progress.


3. Peace Talks Have Been Paused Since 2010

Israeli settlements in the West Bank

One of the most controversial issues between Israel and Palestine are the creation of Israeli settlements, like the one depicted above, in the Palestinian West Bank. (Getty)

The peace process collapsed in 2010 when the most recent attempts at compromise were halted at the issue of Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank, according to AFP. Although the West Bank is officially sanctioned as part of the sovereign land of Palestine, Israeli settlers continue to build settlements likes those depicted above, within the region.

This issue is considered one of the more contentious to be discussed during the meeting.


4. John Kerry Was Just in the Middle East

Kerry has traveled to the Middle East six times during the five months he has been Secretary of State, showing his commitment to tackling the issue.

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5. A Palestinian Political Faction Has Rejected the Talks

map of israel

Palestine currently consists of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and part of Jerusalem.

AFP is reporting that a major faction of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) has rejected the prospect of peace talks just as the renewed discussions are scheduled to start.

The group in question in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine who said that they are against the negotiations because they feel that the moderators, the United States, are skewed toward siding with Israel.


6. There Are 5 Million Refugees to Handle

Palestinian Refugees

Palestinian refugees seek refuge in Lebanon (Getty)

Along with the conflicts surrounding West Bank Settlements, Jerusalem and the borders, the delegations in Washington are expected to discuss the out-of-control refugee problem that is affecting most nations in the region.

According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), there are approximately 5 million Palestinian refugees currently living in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, often in harsh conditions.


7. The Talks Will Likely Take Months

israeli peace talks

Former President Jimmy Carter at the Camp David Accords, 1978.

Kerry said he knows the negotiations will be tough and that these issues will not be settled quickly. This week’s talks in Washington are designated to decide how and where the negotiations will take place and set bureaucratic ground rules for the negotiations.

One of the most successful chapters in the Middle East peace process, the 1978 Camp David Accords (which won all of its participants a Nobel Peace Prize), lasted 14 months.


8. The Israeli People Could Overturn Any Compromise

isreali president

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Getty)

Seen as an aggressive move by the conservative factions of the Israeli government, a peace referendum bill has been passed that will require the population of Israel to vote in order to approve or reject peace treaties created during the talks with Palestine. This means any compromises met in the talks could be easily overturned in a vote from the Israeli public.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on his Facebook page:

In the next nine months will examine whether the Palestinian cause like we are at the end of the conflict between us. It would end only if Israel were to be civil security and vital national interests. If we can get a peace that will bring it to referendum…To allow all civil and citizen impact directly on our future and our destiny in this issue.


9. Martin Indyk Will Facilitate the Talks

Martin Indyk Israel

Martin Indyk (Getty)

Martin Indyk, 62, is the vice president and director for foreign policy at the renowned Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. He has previously serviced as the Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs under the Clinton Administration ands served two separate stints as the U.S. Ambassador to Israel from 1995 to 1997, and from 2000 to 2001.

He was also a major player in the 1993 peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.


10. Violence Continues Regularly Along the Borders

Since the formal creation of the state of Israel in 1948, border clashes like the one depicted above have been common occurrences. Often consisting of Palestinian protesters throwing rocks at border patrols or border outposts, these skirmishes often end in causalities and bloodshed. Above is a video from a clash along the Gaza Strip where the Israeli army can be heard firing on activists.

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