Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will aim to seal a “final status” peace deal in nine months, after holding the first talks for three years in the US.
John Kerry, the US secretary of state, with both negotiators at his side, announced that this week’s round of talks between the two sides were positive and constructive and he was convinced they could make peace.
He added that “all issues” would be on the table for negotiation.
“The parties have agreed to remain engaged in sustained, continuous and substantive negotiations on the core issues,” Mr Kerry said.
“They will meet within the next two weeks in either Israel or the Palestinian Territories in order to begin the process of formal negotiation.
“The parties have agreed here today that all of the final status issues, all of the core issues and all other issues are all on the table for negotiation.
“And they are on the table with one simple goal: a view to ending the conflict, ending the claims. Our objective will be to achieve a final status agreement over the course of the next nine months.”
He also reiterated his view that time is running out for a two-state solution, insisting “there is no other alternative.
“We all need to be strong in our belief in the possibility of peace, courageous enough to follow through in our faith in it, and audacious enough to achieve what these two peoples have so long aspired to and deserve,” he said.
Mr Erakat said: “No one benefits more from the success of this endeavour than Palestinians.
Ms Livni added that she hoped that a “spark of hope” would emerge from the new talks.
“It is our task to work together so that we can transform that spark of hope into something real and lasting,” she said.
“I believe that history is not made by cynics. It is made by realists who are not afraid to dream. And let us be these people.”
Earlier US President Barack Obama met with the negotiators – Tzipi Livni for Israel and Saeb Erakat for the Palestinian side following a day at the State Department.
Mr Kerry, who has been involved in six months of shuttle diplomacy, broke the ice by hosting an Iftar dinner for the negotiators at the end of the Muslim fasting for Ramadan.
Ms Livni said the mood at the dinner, held in sumptuous rooms in the State Department, had been “positive.”
“All issues are on the table, but we decided that what was said will stay in the negotiating room and will not go outside,” she told Israeli public radio