Obama: 'Hard work' ahead of Middle East peace talks

President Obama described the talks as 'a promising step forward'. Credit: Ron Sachs/ABACA USA/Empics Entertainment

President Obama says Israeli and Palestinian negotiators face "hard work and hard choices" in direct peace talks set to open in Washington tonight.

The meeting comes after a divided Israeli Cabinet agreed to release 104 long-term Palestinian prisoners convicted of deadly attacks.

"The most difficult work of these negotiations is ahead, and I am hopeful that both the Israelis and Palestinians will approach these talks in good faith and with sustained focus and determination," Mr Obama said in a statement.

The US president said he believed peace between the two parties was both "possible and necessary."

Advertisement

Israel approves 1000 new settlements

The Israeli Government has approved up to 1000 new settlements three days before peace talks with the Palestinians resume in Jerusalem.