Negotiators aim for peace deal in nine months
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    According to reports, stalled negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians have gained new life following efforts led by US Secretary of State John Kerry, with both sides setting a goal of nine months to reach a peace deal. Following initial meetings in Washington between Israeli chief negotiator Tzipi Livni and her Palestinian counterpart Saeb Erakat, the two sides have agreed to meet within the next two weeks. Kerry has said that all contentious issues would be on the negotiating table. These include right of return for Palestinian refugees; the borders of a Palestinian state; and the fate of Jerusalem claimed by both sides as a future capital. US diplomat Martin Indyk has been appointed as the country’s special envoy to the talks. The previous US-led talks held in 2010 collapsed as a result of continued Israeli settlement building in occupied territories. Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, is opposed to the resumed talks, but has observed an informal truce with Israel since late last year. 1