Israelis and Palestinians are preparing to hold talks for the first time in three years after pressure from US Secretary of State John Kerry. But mistrust between the two sides is perhaps greater now than ever before. Two decades have passed and thousands of people have been killed since the breakdown of the Oslo peace talks. Both sides realize this could be the last chance for a deal.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement of the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners, mostly convicted of terror attacks against Israelis, has helped pave the way for the relaunch of Mideast peace negotiations.
Domestically, it’s a very risky step, which met with fierce resistance from ordinary Israelis and from within Netanyahu’s rightwing coalition. However, terror attacks have now almost completely ceased under the government of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Israeli president Shimon Peres hailed the announcement of the relaunch of Mideast peace negotiations as a "special day" and once more expressed his support for a two-state solution.
However, disagreement still remains over many issues and about the order in which they will be discussed. Contentious points include the drawing of future borders, Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the status of Jerusalem and the return of Palestinian refugees.
Tell us what you think: Israel and Palestine: Squaring the Circle
Igal Avidan - Igal Avidan was born in Tel Aviv in 1962 and studied English literature, information technology and political science. He has worked in Berlin as a freelance author for several Israeli newspapers and broadcasters since 1990. He has also lectured on the topic of the Middle East. His first book published in Germany, “Israel - Ein Staat sucht sich selbst”, was praised by critics.
Akram Baker - is the former Senior Communications Advisor to the Head of the Palestinian Negotiation Team under Faisal al-Husseini. He attended the peace talks in Madrid and Oslo. An American of Palestinian origin, Akram has been widely published in the New York Times, Die Zeit, UPI and other journals and has appeared as an independent Mideast political analyst extensively on the BBC, CNN, and ABC. He also took an active role in Barack Obama´s elections campaigns in 2008 and 2012 and has been a frequent speaker on US foreign policy at such forums as the World Economic Forum, Doha Debates, Brookings Institute, and the Fulbright Association.
Sylke Tempel - Sylke Tempel was born in 1963 in Bayreuth, Germany and took history, political science and Jewish studies at university. She worked as Middle East correspondent for Germany’s “Die Woche” newspaper and was later an editor at Germany’s weekly Jewish interest publication “Jüdischen Allgemeine”. She is now the editor-in-chief of "Internationale Politik", which is published by the German Council of Foreign Affairs. She has authored several books including “Israel. Reise durch ein altes, neues Land".