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Continued: Israelis, Palestinians resuming negotiations after 5-year break, but skepticism runs high

  • Article by: IAN DEITCH , Associated Press
  • Last update: July 29, 2013 - 1:55 PM

Resuming negotiations "is a dangerous step and the only beneficiary is the occupation (Israel), which uses it as a cover for its continued crimes," Abu Zuhri said.

Hamas wants to establish an Islamic state in all of historic Palestine, including what is now Israel. Hamas has raised the possibility of long-term cease-fires under some circumstances, but has made clear it would not consider a partition deal to be the end of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

The expected resumption of talks comes after six months of shuttle diplomacy by Kerry, and Israel's agreement to release veteran prisoners was key to the secretary's success.

The Cabinet decision was welcomed by Palestinians and some drew angry reactions in Israel.

The fate of Palestinian prisoners is an emotional issue on both sides; Palestinians tend to view the prisoners as heroes who sacrificed for the struggle for statehood, while many Israelis seem them as cold-blooded killers.

The list of prisoners eligible for release includes those who killed or wounded Israelis or killed Palestinian informers.

"The murderers will be released," read the front-page headline in Israel's Yediot Ahronot daily Monday.

Netanyahu faced opposition in his Cabinet, though he pushed through Sunday's approval with a comfortable 13-7 vote, with two abstentions.

On the streets of Israel and the West Bank, hope mixed with skepticism.

"I believe it's time to give it (negotiations) a chance and to try again," said Tel Aviv resident Eliot Diamant. Another city resident, Eliezer Zaiger, said he believes negotiations won't benefit Israel.

That view was shared by Issam Baker in the West Bank city of Ramallah. He said little will change on the ground for Palestinians and that previous rounds of talks have not produced results.

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Associated Press writer Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah contributed reporting.

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