Wednesday, February 21, 2018
News Roundup

Kerry to offer outline of Mideast peace deal

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry will present to Israel and the Palestinians the broad outlines of what a final Mideast peace agreement could look like when he travels to the region this week, the State Department said on Monday.

Kerry will discuss with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a proposed framework to serve as a guideline for addressing all core issues in the decades-long dispute, State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

The core issues include the borders between Israel and a future Palestine, security arrangements, the fate of Palestinian refugees and conflicting claims to the holy city of Jerusalem.

The two sides resumed peace talks in July under heavy pressure from Kerry. As a precondition, the Palestinians were forced to drop a demand for a halt in construction of new Jewish settlements. In exchange, Israel agreed to release 104 Palestinian prisoners it has detained for years.

Kerry, who is scheduled to leave on New Year's Day for Israel and the Palestinian territories, has invested a lot of time conducting shuttle negotiations in hopes of reaching a deal within nine months. The target date expires at the end of April.

Kerry's trip coincides with the third of four releases of a total of 104 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli detention. Israel has announced the names of 26 long-serving Palestinian prisoners to be released this week. All have served sentences of between 19 and 28 years.

"The Israeli government's commitment to release Palestinian prisoners helped enable the start and continuation of the final status negotiations, and we believe this is a positive step forward in the overall process," Harf said.

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