WASHINGTON (JTA) — The United States has invited Israel and the Palestinians to relaunch direct peace talks next month, though the parameters remain vague.
"On behalf of the United States government I’ve invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to meet on Sept. 2 to resolve all final status issues which we believe can be completed within one year," Hillary Rodham Clinton, the U.S. secretary of state, said in a conference call on Friday.
George Mitchell, the top U.S. envoy to the region, suggested the parameters to the talks had yet to be determined.
"It will be for the parties themselves to decide the manner in which they will be addressed," he said, responding to a question regarding when and how the parties will get to the final-status issues, which include borders, Jerusalem and refugees. "There are differences of opinions on both sides on how best to succeed. We don’t expect all of those differences to disappear when talks begin."
The two leaders, joined by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah, have been invited to dine with President Obama on Sept. 1; prior to the dinner, Obama will meet with each leader separately. The next day, Netanyahu, Abbas and Clinton will meet at the State Department to launch talks.
Netanyahu accepted the offer within minutes of its announcement. It was not immediately clear if Abbas, Mubarak and Abdullah had accepted their invitations.
"Reaching an agreement is a difficult challenge but is possible," Netanyahu said in a statement. "We are coming to the talks with a genuine desire to reach a peace agreement between the two peoples that will protect Israel’s national security interests, foremost of which is security."