U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to announce that Israel and the Palestinians will resume direct negotiations (NYT) for the first time in twenty months. Envoys from the so-called Quartet (the United States, the EU, Russia, and the UN) agreed to details Thursday (Reuters).
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to a one-year time limit on the talks. Palestinians want clarity on terms and conditions before talks begin, including assurances that the borders of Israel and Palestinian territories in 1967 will be the basis for a final agreement (WSJ). Israel does not want preconditions, including on an extension of the government's ten-month, partial moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank (WashPost), which expires September 26. Obama wants direct talks to begin before this date, since full-scale return to settlement construction could permanently end talks. The majority of Netanyahu's inner cabinet opposes extending the settlement freeze, though some support a compromise with Abbas.
In the Jerusalem Post, former Israeli ambassador to the United States Zalman Shoval says the administration has shifted "the tactics it employed against the Netanyahu government" and "learned some lessons from its almost obsessive focus on settlements."
The Economist says direct talks with Palestinians may force Netanyahu and other Israeli politicians "into making the choices they have all been avoiding."
This Reuters Factbox outlines the major issues in Israel-Palestinian peacemaking.
This CFR Crisis Guide examines the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.