Making their first public statements since peace talks began in Washington this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and lead Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat spoke in optimistic tones about the prospect of an agreement. Netanyahu referenced “a sense of readiness that exists in the Arab world.” Erekat struck a similar tone, saying, “This is the time for decisions.” Despite the optimism, the talks must reckon with a history of failure, and the upcoming end to Israel’s moratorium on West Bank settlements on September 26 could stop the talks entirely if Israel does not extend it. So far, the leaders have organized a framework for the negotiations, with Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas agreeing to meet every two weeks for a year. Also in their favor, American diplomats have committed to staying involved for the entire process.
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