Kerry to offer outline of Mideast peace deal

Relatives of Israelis killed in attacks by Palestinian militants, hold photos of victims during a demonstration against the release of 26 long-serving Palestinian prisoners, in Jerusalem's old city, Monday. AP photo

Relatives of Israelis killed in attacks by Palestinian militants, hold photos of victims during a demonstration against the release of 26 long-serving Palestinian prisoners, in Jerusalem's old city, Monday. AP photo

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry will present Israel and the Palestinians the broad outlines of what a final Mideast peace agreement could look like when he travels to the region this week, the State Department said on Monday.

State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Kerry will discuss with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a proposed framework to serve as a guideline for addressing all core issues in the decades-long dispute. The core issues include the borders between Israel and a future Palestine, security arrangements, the fate of Palestinian refugees and conflicting claims to the holy city of Jerusalem.

The two sides resumed peace talks in July under heavy pressure from Kerry. As a precondition, the Palestinians were forced to drop a demand for a halt in construction of new Jewish settlements. In exchange, Israel agreed to release 104 long-serving Palestinian prisoners it has detained for years.

Harf said Kerry hoped to narrow gaps in the two parties’ positions, but it is not clear whether any agreement on a framework would be reached during the trip.

“It’s only a proposed framework at this point. .. This framework would address all the core issues,” Harf said.

“Some people say this would be an interim agreement. No, that’s not the case. It would address the guidelines around all the core issues that are part of the final status negotiations.”

Kerry’s trip coincides with the third of four releases of a total of 104 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli detention. Israel has announced the names of 26 long-serving Palestinian prisoners to be released this week. All have served sentences of between 19 and 28 years.

“The Israeli government’s commitment to release Palestinian prisoners helped enable the start and continuation of the final status negotiations, and we believe this is a positive step forward in the overall process,” Harf said.

Israeli hard-liners typically oppose the release of Palestinian prisoners and, as with past releases, the Israeli government plans to announce the construction of new Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank — a move expected to anger the Palestinians.

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