Washington: Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have resumed long-stalled peace talks here, with the United States asking both sides to make the compromises to reach a long lasting deal.
The first round of direct talks held at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department lasted about 90 minutes last evening. The negotiations would continue today.
The peace talks were stalled since September 2010 over Israel's policy of settlement in the occupied land.
"It was a constructive and productive meeting between the (two) parties. They engaged in good faith and with seriousness of purpose. We are looking forward to continuing the talks tomorrow morning," a Senior State Department official said.
Following the first round of talks, US Secretary of State John Kerry hosted the two delegations for an Iftaar.
While the Israelis are represented by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Molcho, and the Palestinians are led by Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat and Mohammad Shtayyeh.
Livni and Erakat sat down side-by-side opposite Secretary Kerry to share the Itfaar meal just after sunset.
Hours ahead of resumption of talks, Kerry appointed Martin Indyk, a seasoned diplomat, as the Special US Envoy for Israeli- Palestinian negotiations on a day-to-day basis.
President Barack Obama said the US stands ready to support them throughout these talks, with the goal of achieving two states, living side by side in peace.
"The most difficult work of these negotiations is ahead, and I am hopeful that both the Israelis and Palestinians will approach these talks in good faith and with sustained focus and determination," Obama said.
Earlier in the day, Kerry acknowledged that this is a difficult process and said: "Going forward, it's no secret that this is a difficult process. If it were easy, it would have happened a long time."
"It's no secret, therefore, that many difficult choices lie ahead for the negotiators and for the leaders as we seek reasonable compromises on tough, complicated, emotional, and symbolic issues," he said.
"I think reasonable compromises have to be a keystone of all of this effort. I know the negotiations are going to be tough, but I also know that the consequences of not trying could be worse," Kerry said.
Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, applaud Kerry's success in bringing the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
"Peace and a two-state solution in the Middle East will only come about by Israelis and Palestinians talking face-to- face," he said.
Certainly encouraged that the two parties are coming to Washington and beginning their conversations, the White House said at the same time, it is also cognizant of the hard work that remains over the next nine months.
"There are some very serious issues that have to be resolved, and it's not going to be easy. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, and we'll take that first step tonight," White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest.