July 30 - Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will seek a peace agreement within nine months after holding a ''positive'' first round of talks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announces. Katharine Jackson reports.
STORY: Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will seek to reach a peace agreement within nine months and negotiators will meet again within two weeks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said at a State Department news conference on Tuesday (July 30). Flanked by Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, Kerry said he believed peace was possible despite the obstacles. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY SAYING: "The parties have agreed here today that all of the final-status issues, all of the core issues, and all other issues are all on the table for negotiation, and they are on the table with one simple goal: a view to ending the conflict." The senior aides to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held their first talks this week since 2010, but focused largely on the framework for negotiations rather than the substance of their dispute. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR SAEB EREKAT SAYING: "I'm delighted that all final-status issues are on the table and will be resolved without any exceptions. And it's time for the Palestinian people to have an independent sovereign state of their own." (SOUNDBITE) (English) TZIPI LIVNI, ISRAEL'S JUSTICE MINISTER SAYING: "We all know that it's not going to be easy. It's going to be hard, with ups and downs. But I can assure you that these negotiations -- in these negotiations, it's not our intention to argue about the past, but to create solutions and make decisions for the future." The United States is seeking to broker an agreement on a "two-state solution," in which Israel would exist peacefully alongside a new Palestinian state created in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, lands occupied by the Israelis since a 1967 war. The major issues to be resolved in the talks include borders, the future of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem.