A senior Palestinian official told The Wall Street Journal on Saturday that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry relayed to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday a commitment made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to release several Palestinian prisoners even before talks between Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, scheduled to take place in Washington next week.
The official also said that Kerry told Abbas Israel has agreed to a "quiet freeze" of settlement construction, yet will not announce the move officially and publicly. He added that Kerry gave Abbas his 'own guarantee' that peace talks will resume on the basis of the 1967 lines.
Meanwhile, The New York Times reported that Kerry secured the sides' agreement for resuming talks on the basis of a U.S. statement that negotiations will be based on the 1967 lines with land swaps and recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. The report said that the Americans reached an understanding with both sides according to which they would not have to publicly endorse these principles.
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