Peace Talks Resume After Five Years
- Palestinian State (proposed) Main Page
- The Oslo Accord, Government Corruption, and a "Road Map" to Peace
- Assassinations, a New Government, and a Temporary Withdrawal
- The Rise of Hamas
- Hamas and Farah Clash
- Attempting Cease-Fire
- Abbas Under Fire
- Palestinian Factions Sign Historic Reconciliation Accord
- Palestine Officially Requests Membership to UN
- Progress for UN Memberships Stalls
- Exploratory Talks with Israel End while Unity Government with Hamas Moves Forward
- Palestinian Authority Marks 19th Oslo Accords Anniversary with Economic Troubles
- Violence Erupts Between Israel and Gaza in November 2012
- UN Approves Non-Member State Status
- Egypt Attempts to Get Hamas and Fatah to Reconcile
- Rami Hamdallah Becomes Prime Minister
- Peace Talks Resume After Five Years
- 2013 Report Supports Theory That Arafat Was Poisoned
- New Unity Government Includes Hamas
- Murders of Israeli and Palestinian Teenagers Increases Tension
- Britain Votes to Recognize Palestine
- Palestine Asks to Join the International Criminal Court
- More Obstacles Emerge for Palestine in 2015
Peace Talks Resume After Five Years
On Aug. 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.
Palestinian officials said they called off the peace talks after three protesters were killed by Israeli soldiers on Aug. 26, 2013. The clash between the protesters and soldiers happened after Israeli forces entered the Qalandia refugee camp, located outside of Jerusalem, as part of a nighttime arrest raid. After the raid, hundreds of Palestinians rushed into the streets to throw rocks, concrete and firebombs at the Israeli soldiers. Along with the three killed in the clash, more than a dozen others were wounded. The incident was the deadliest in that area near Jerusalem in years. Palestinian officials said the break in peace talks would be brief. Israeli officials did not comment. U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said that "no meetings have been canceled. We've been clear that the two parties are engaged in serious and sustained negotiations."
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 Nov. 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.
In late Feb. 2014, both U.S. and Israeli officials suggested that an extension on the peace talks deadline would be necessary. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat rejected any extension. "There is no meaning to prolonging the negotiation, even for one more additional hour, if Israel, represented by its current government, continues to disregard international law." In his statement, Erakat referred to the continued Israeli construction on land it seized during the 1967 Middle East war, construction considered a violation of international law by Palestine and the international community.
When Israel failed to release the promised last batch of prisoners in late March 2014, U.S. Secretary John Kerry headed there in an attempt to rescue the latest round of peace talks. Israel had promised to release Palestinian prisoners in four groups and released the first three groups. But Israel's failure to release the last group of 26 prisoners as well as their continued settlement expansion in the West Bank threatened to derail a peace agreement that was supposed to be reached by the end of April 2014. Palestine said that the peace talks would end on April 29 if Israel did not release the 26 prisoners.
In April 2014, the troubled peace talks hit another snag when Palestinian leadership and Hamas forged a new reconciliation agreement. The new unity deal angered the Israeli government. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted by saying that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was choosing "Hamas, not peace." The U.S. government warned that the new accord could prevent any progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Since 1997, Hamas has been a designated foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. On April 24, 2014, the day after the Palestinian leadership announced its new unity deal with Hamas, Israel responded by halting the peace talks. The following day, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah resigned. The deadline for this latest round of peace talks passed without an agreement a week later.
Pope Francis invited leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to come to the Vatican for what he called a "peace initiative." The invitation came while Pope Francis delivered an outdoor Mass in Bethlehem during his three-day trip to the Middle East in late May 2014. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accepted the invitation from Pope Francis. Likewise, the office of Israeli President Shimon Peres responded that Peres welcomed the invitation. Both would travel at some point in the near future to the Vatican.