US peace envoy to come to Israel next week

Former ambassador Martin Indyk will meet with diplomatic officials; PLO factions are refusing to support scheduled negotiations

Secretary of State John Kerry with former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk at the State Department in Washington, Monday, July 29, 2013, as he announces that Indyk will shepherd the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. (Photo credit: AP/Charles Dharapak)

Secretary of State John Kerry with former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk at the State Department in Washington, Monday, July 29, 2013, as he announces that Indyk will shepherd the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. (Photo credit: AP/Charles Dharapak)

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The US envoy to peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians will arrive in the country on Sunday for a round of meetings with top Israeli officials.

Sources in Jerusalem told The Times of Israel on Wednesday that Martin Indyk, who was hand-picked by US President Barack Obama to be Washington’s point man at the talks, is scheduled to meet with officials from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Foreign Ministry, and members of Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s negotiating team. Continue reading

Familiar cast as US launches new Mideast peace bid

Israeli, Palestinian negotiating teams sit down to talk for first time in three years over festive Ramadan meal at State Department

US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, sits across from Justice Minister and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni, third right, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, second right, Yitzhak Molcho, an adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, fourth right, and Mohammed Shtayyeh, aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right, at an Iftar dinner, which celebrates Ramadan, at the State Department in Washington, marking the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Monday, July 29, 2013. (photo credit: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, sits across from Justice Minister and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni, third right, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, second right, Yitzhak Molcho, an adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, fourth right, and Mohammed Shtayyeh, aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right, at an Iftar dinner, which celebrates Ramadan, at the State Department in Washington, marking the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Monday, July 29, 2013. (photo credit: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

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WASHINGTON — With a cast of characters that has presided over numerous failed Middle East peace efforts, the Obama administration launched a fresh bid for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal with the resumption of substantive negotiations.

Israelis and Palestinians have agreed to a nine-month timeline for final-status negotiations, an official there revealed early Monday afternoon, hours before the peace talks were set to start.

Despite words of encouragement, deep skepticism about the prospects for success surrounded the initial discussions, which were opening with a dinner hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry. He named a former US ambassador to Israel to shepherd what all sides believe will be a protracted and difficult process.

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