Gaza, Agencies - The next Israeli-Palestinian peace talks session will be held in Israel in the second week of August and a first group of Palestinian prisoners will be freed by then, (Israel)’s chief negotiator said on Friday.
Justice minister Tzipi Livni told Israel’s Channel 10 television that the parties had agreed on alternating venues for talks in initial meetings with the first to be held in Israel.
“We and the Palestinians both determined that the first meetings would be held once in Israel and once in the Palestinian Authority ... we want to do it directly (and close to home). The next meeting will be in the second week of August in Israel,” she said in a broadcast interview.
The first of the 104 Palestinian prisoners to be released would take place before the negotiations resume, she added.
Asked if the agreement with Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat aiming to reach a peace deal within nine months would be respected, Livni was cautious.
"If after eight months we see that an agreement is near and more time is needed, we will continue. But if the discussions are not serious, we will know this within a month," she said.
On Wednesday, Livni said she was "encouraged" by the first round of direct peace talks with the Palestinians held in Washington at the start of this week after months of dogged US diplomacy ended a three-year hiatus.
"I am encouraged... coming out of the first meeting," she said in an interview broadcast by army radio. "It was an event in which there was a kind of excitement and also hope."