Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas agreed to meet again in about two weeks as the first round of peace talks in nearly two years concluded Thursday at the State Department.
With Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCountering the ongoing Republican delusion Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Poll: Democracy is under attack, and more violence may be the future MORE guiding the two leaders, Abbas and Netanyahu agreed to a wide range of issues, setting set the stage for negotiations to begin on a framework for peace that all involved said they hoped could be completed in one year.
The parties agreed to meet in the region Sept. 14-15, and roughly every two weeks thereafter. Netanyahu and Abbas also agreed to condemn violence in the region, pursue a two-state solution and begin working on achieving a framework agreement for the permanent status of Israel and Palestine, said George Mitchell, President Obama’s envoy to the region.
“The purpose of a framework agreement will be to establish the fundamental compromises necessary to enable them to flesh out and complete a comprehensive treaty that will end the conflict and establish a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” Mitchell said.
In addition to meetings with Clinton and delegations from all three sides, Abbas and Netanyahu met one-on-one on Thursday.
Before the talks began, Clinton said the United States will be “an active and sustained” partner in helping Israelis and Palestinians make peace.
All of the parties cautioned that tough days are ahead for a process that has frustrated several of Obama’s predecessors.
In remarks that opened Thursday’s talks, Clinton said she and Obama believe Netanyahu and Abbas “can succeed,” but warned “success will take patience, persistence and leadership.”
“I truly believe you are the leaders who can make this long-cherished dream a reality, and we will do everything possible to help you,” Clinton said.
Despite West Bank violence earlier this week that threatened to overshadow the talks, both leaders voiced a commitment to peace Thursday.
Netanyahu, speaking after Clinton, said “mutual and painful concessions from both sides” will be necessary for peace.
“We expect you to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said to Abbas. But he added that he is “fully aware and respect[s] your people's desire for sovereignty.”
Abbas called for an end to all Israeli settlements and a complete lifting of the embargo on Gaza, but said negotiations should lead to peace in a year, the time frame Obama has suggested.
An early test of the process will come next month, when an Israeli moratorium on settlement building is set to expire.
Netanyahu again mentioned the killing of four Israeli settlers by Hamas gunmen earlier this week, and Abbas said Palestinian security forces are working to apprehend those responsible.
Clinton warned there will be further efforts to “try to sabotage this process.”
“We've been here before, and we know how difficult the road ahead will be,” she said. “There undoubtedly will be obstacles and setbacks.”