Israel, Palestinians begins talks on core issues

By Xinhua

Jerusalem : Israeli and Palestinian negotiators here on Monday began their meeting for talks on the core issues in their decades long conflict, in a bid to hammer out a final peace agreement by the end of the year, local Ha’aretz said.

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Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia started their meeting at a Jerusalem hotel shortly after 11 a.m. (0900 GMT), the report said, quoting Israeli official as saying.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that the negotiators would tackle six issues: Jerusalem, West Bank settlements, Palestinian refugees, borders, security and water resources.

“If we reach an agreement on all these issues, then we can say that we have reached a final agreement,” Abbas said.

Meanwhile, Livni said early Monday that any agreement reached with the Palestinians will be conditioned on the implementation of the road map peace plan. She added that this understanding was the main achievement of the Annapolis peace conference, and what the negotiations were based upon.

Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to restart peace talks, frozen during seven years of violence, at a U.S.-sponsored Mideast peace conference in November. Last week, before Bush’s arrival, they told their negotiating teams to get down to discussing the core issues.

Previous negotiations have broken down over these topics, as so far neither side has been willing to compromise enough to satisfy the other.