Israeli and Palestinian teams are heading to Washington for preliminary talks toward a formal re-opening of negotiations after years of stalemate, but both sides are emphasizing that many obstacles stand between them and a final deal Al Jazeera reported.
Israel's chief negotiator Tzipi Livni said early Monday as she left for Washington that talks will be complex and that she was leaving "cautiously but also with hope."
Palestinian negotiators also departed after the Israeli cabinet acceded to Palestinian demands and agreed to release 104 Palestinian prisoners, some of whom have been jailed for decades.
A statement issued on Sunday by the US State Department said that secretary of state John Kerry spoke to both Israeli and Palestinian leaders and "personally extended an invitation to send senior negotiating teams to Washington to formally resume direct final status negotiations."
These meetings "will serve as an opportunity to develop a procedural workplan for how the parties can proceed with the negotiations in the coming months," spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement on Sunday.
Talks about talks
The Israelis will be represented by Livni and Yitzhak Molcho, and the Palestinians will be represented by chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and Mohammad Shtayyeh.
Nabil Abu Rdaineh, a senior aide to Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, said Abbas had received an official invitation from Kerry.
The Palestinian news agency, WAFA, quoted Abu Rdaineh as saying that the first meeting would aim to develop a procedural working plan for both sides to enable them to advance in talks in the coming months.
While talks have stuttered and started for decades, they collapsed completely in September 2010 when Israel refused to keep up a freeze on illegal settlement building within the occupied Palestinian territories.
"As Secretary Kerry announced on July 19 in Amman, Jordan, the Israelis and Palestinians had reached agreement on the basis for resuming direct final status negotiations," the statement said. "The meetings in Washington will mark the beginning of these talks."
Follow us on Twitter @TRENDNewsAgency