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Netanyahu More Receptive to Restarting Talks with Palestinians

Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to have softened his hard-line stance against talks with the Palestinians after discussions late last week with Secretary of State John Kerry.

In something of a breakthrough, Kerry announced that Israeli and Palestinian officials may visit Washington sometime in the next few weeks to jump-start negotiations that broke off in 2010.

Presumably, the creation of a Palestinian state will be the centerpiece of the talks, and how the groundwork for such action can be achieved.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu said in a statement late Saturday that talks between the two sides, besides being of vital strategic interest, have taken on an added importance because of threats Israel faces from Iran and Syria.

As a goodwill gesture, Israel plans to release a "limited" number of Palestinian prisoners at some point in the future.

While he was in the Middle East last week, Kerry also held discussions with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.  The Palestinians have long said negotiations with Israel cannot begin until Jewish settlements are halted in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while the Israelis say there can be no preconditions.

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