Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have reportedly agreed on a nine-month timeline for the current round of peace talks, with an eye toward final-status negotiations at some point within it.
The nine month span doesn’t amount to a “deadline,” according to the US State Department, but rather a pledge for both sides to keep plugging away for at least that long, meaning that barring another setback, the talks would go through the end of next April.
Though the talks are being presented as starting from scratch, with extremely preliminary negotiations taking place today, the issues have been discussed for decades by many of the leaders on both sides, and the same stumbling blocks seem liable to crop up this time.
The disputes will continue to center around Israeli settlements primarily, and the question of setting actual, real borders for a Palestinian state. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long spurned calls to propose final borders, seeking to get the Palestinians to agree to nominal statehood in a nebulous portion of the West Bank, which would constantly continue to shift as new settlements are created.
US officials are trumpeting the talks as a big deal, and an accomplishment for Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, though both seem to be laying the groundwork for the talks’ eventual collapse before they even begin, hoping to see the other side blamed for the inevitable failure and trying to squeeze whatever political benefit they can out of the negotiations in the interim.