Middle East peace talks resume today in Washington

Global Post: Senior Palestinian and Israeli negotiators were due to meet in Washington, DC, on Monday for their first direct peace talks since 2010.

Announcing the meeting Sunday, the United States said it was “looking forward to beginning these substantive discussions and in moving forward toward a final status agreement.”

The talks come the day after Israel agreed to a Palestinian demand for the release of more than 100 Palestinian prisoners, in what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a tough decision “for the good of the nation.”

More from GlobalPost: Israeli-Palestinian peace talks: What does each side want?

According to a statement from the US State Department, the Israeli and Palestinian delegations will meet first on Monday evening and again on Tuesday. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni will lead Israel’s team, while the Palestinians will be represented by chief negotiator Saeb Erekat.

The sessions are aimed at laying the groundwork for more talks in the months ahead, the statement said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who has made the Middle East his top priority since taking office five months ago, spoke to each side Sunday to finalize the arrangements.

Both Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “have demonstrated a willingness to make difficult decisions that have been instrumental in getting to this point,”Kerry said, adding that he was “grateful.”

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