Israelis, Palestinians skeptical about peace talks

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Israel has said it will release some Palestinian prisoners as a good-will gesture, but there are few other official details to emerge about the framework of the talks.

The actual talks are to produce a deal on the borders between Israel and a future Palestine, a partition of Jerusalem, the fate of refugees and security arrangements.

While a majority of Israelis support a two-state solution with the Palestinians, polls suggest there is less support for a partition of Jerusalem.

The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as their future capital. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, and the territory has since been taken over by the Islamic militant Hamas group, which does not accept Mr. Abbas‘ authority.

Israel and the Palestinians have engaged in several rounds of negotiations since Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization recognized each other in 1993.

At least twice, in 2001 and in 2008, the two sides reportedly made significant progress. Since then, many on both sides have become skeptical about a possible deal.

Palestinians suspect Mr. Netanyahu is interested in the process of negotiations as a diplomatic cover, but not in an actual deal. Israelis fear territory they hand over to a weak Mr. Abbas could turn quickly into a staging ground for attacks on them by Palestinian militants, as happened in Gaza.

“The chances for a permanent solution are not high,” Interior Minister Gideon Saar told Israel Radio. “The Palestinians are not ready to make the historic decision to end the conflict between them and us.”

The Palestinians, too, were hardly optimistic.

“We are skeptical about these talks because the Israelis are not going to stop building in the settlements and because they didn’t accept the ‘67 borders,” said Tawfiq Tirawi, a member of Mr. Abbas‘ Fatah Party. “What we got in return for going back to negotiations is an American pledge that the talks will be on the ‘67 borders, and historically the Americans always gave us such pledges, but they never abided by these pledges.”

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