Trump: No more aid unless Palestinians talk peace; Jerusalem is ‘off the table’

US President Donald Trump during a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, eastern Switzerland, on January 25, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm)

US President Donald Trump during a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, eastern Switzerland, on January 25, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm)

Sitting next to Netanyahu in Davos, US president says Israel ‘wants to make peace,’ Palestinians ‘disrespected’ US in refusing to meet Pence

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EU to name new special envoy to Mideast peace process

Fernando Gentilini, the European Union's designated Middle East peace envoy (photo credit: CC BY ResoluteSupportMedia/Flickr)

Fernando Gentilini, the European Union’s designated Middle East peace envoy (photo credit: CC BY ResoluteSupportMedia/Flickr)

 

Italian-born Fernando Gentilini has no background in Israeli-Palestinian talks, but seen as expert in conflict resolution

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Obama ‘committed’ to two-state solution for Israel, Palestinians

US President Barack Obama (centre) looks on as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) shakes hands with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas before a 2009 meeting in New York (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)

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US anger at Netanyahu said ‘red-hot’ as ties hit new low

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and President Barack Obama embrace at a ceremony welcoming the US leader at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, on March 20, 2013 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and President Barack Obama embrace at a ceremony welcoming the US leader at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, on March 20, 2013 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

As Israel’s relationship with its critical ally enters ‘full-blown crisis,’ The Atlantic reports, senior American officials refer to Israeli PM as a ‘chickenshit,’ hell-bent on career preservation

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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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Palestinians say restart of peace talks close

Kerry said to be nearing a deal for a six- to nine-month window of negotiations

US Secretary of State John Kerry (center), Israeli President Shimon Peres (left), and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas all shake hands during the World Economic Forum in Jordan, Sunday May 26, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Jim Young)

US Secretary of State John Kerry (center), Israeli President Shimon Peres (left), and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas all shake hands during the World Economic Forum in Jordan, Sunday May 26, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Jim Young)

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — US Secretary of State John Kerry is closing in on an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians to relaunch peace talks for a period of six to nine months, Palestinian officials said Thursday.

While a deal is not yet in place, the Palestinians said their president, Mahmoud Abbas, is pleased with the progress and hopeful a formula can be reached to begin what would be the first substantive peace negotiations in nearly five years. Kerry announced this week that he had significantly narrowed the gaps between the sides and would soon return to the region to try to wrap up the deal.

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