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2013 World News: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

New Peace Talks Begin After Five Years


Mahmoud Abbas

Mahmoud Abbas

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On August 14, 2013, Israelis and Palestinians began peace talks in Jerusalem. Expectations were low going into the talks, the third attempt to negotiate since 2000, and nearly five years since the last attempt. The talks began just hours after Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners. The prisoner release was an attempt on Israel's part to bring Palestine back to the negotiating table. Israel said the prisoner release would be the first of four. Palestinian officials expressed concern about Israel's ongoing settlement building in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, land that would be part of an official Palestinian state.

Israel freed another 26 Palestinian prisoners as part of the current U.S.-brokered peace talks in October. However, soon after the prisoners were released, the Israeli government reported it planned to build 1,500 new homes in east Jerusalem, an area claimed by the Palestinians. The settlement announcement was seen as a concession to the right after the prisoner release.

By November 2013, peace talks appeared to be on the verge of collapse when a Palestinian negotiator said no deal would be better than one that allowed Israel to keep building settlements. Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh said, "In the absence of political will from the Israeli side to take the negotiations seriously, we believe that it is better not to reach a deal than to reach a bad deal. By insisting on building settlements in Palestine, the government of Israel is showing that it is not interested in reaching a peace agreement."

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