Kerry predicts Israeli-Palestinian agreement in 9 months

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Israelis and Palestinians will negotiate final status issues and come to an agreement in nine months, Secretary of State John Kerry said after the first round of renewed peace talks.

“The parties have agreed to remain engaged in sustained continuous and substantive negotiations on the core issues, and they will meet within the next two weeks in either Israel or the Palestinian territories in order to begin the process of formal negotiation,” Kerry said Tuesday in a State Department appearance flanked by the top negotiator from each side, Tzipi Livni for Israel and Saeb Erekat for the Palestinians.

The sides met for the first time since 2010 on Monday night following months of lobbying by Kerry.

At the news conference, Kerry said he expected a final-status agreement in nine months and that the sides agreed to delegate to him all announcements prior to then — and that he did not plan on making announcements.

Kerry also said that Israel in the coming weeks would ease conditions for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.