It seems that the renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have got off to as good a start as anyone could have hoped for.
Both Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas have agreed to meet again in Egypt later this month, and then every two weeks afterwards, which may make President Obama’s target of a deal within 12 months feasible.
“It’s an unprecedented opportunity to end a century of conflict, but we face such a task to end the bloodshed and to secure a future of promise and hope for our children and grandchildren,” said Netanyahu.
Netanyahu and Abbas shook hands, and appeared to be developing a rapport, but the hardline forces ranged against them in their own camps remain powerful and unpredictable.
“We will work on all the final status issues, Jerusalem, the settlements, the borders, security, water, and also releasing the detainees in order to end the occupation that began in 1967, the occupation of the Palestinian territories and in order to create the state of Palestine,” said Abbas.
In a frank interview in Israeli newspaper Haaretz Defence Minister and former prime minister Ehud Barak said a special regime could be set up allowing the Palestinians to run the Arab east of Jerusalem as their capital, satisfying a key Palestinian demand.