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Netanyahu to put Kerry peace ideas to cabinet

| Sunday, July 21, 2013, 10:21 p.m.
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JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - JULY 21: (ISRAEL OUT) Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting on July 21, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel. The Israeli cabinet met at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center as part of a series of events marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will seek formal cabinet backing for reviving U.S.-sponsored peace talks with the Palestinians, an Israeli official said, despite pro-settler ministers' threatens to try to thwart the initiative.

Netanyahu's plan seemed to cast some doubt on how soon Secretary of State John Kerry might be able to restart talks stalled since 2010, with neither Israel nor the Palestinians having agreed to renew them, in spite of his announcement of a breakthrough on Friday.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said late on Sunday that no date had been set for sending negotiators to Washington, confounding Kerry's expectations that talks there could begin “within the next week or so.”

Before negotiations resume, Netanyahu would first ask his cabinet “to empower him to renew the diplomatic process with the Palestinians,” the Israeli official said.

The official said it had yet to be determined whether the full cabinet would vote on Kerry's proposals at its next session on July 28, or whether a smaller security cabinet would debate the matter later this week.

The Israeli leader would seek cabinet authorization to answer Palestinian demands for a release of dozens of prisoners as a goodwill gesture, with a plan to free them in a four-stage process lasting over nine months, the official said.

Palestinians have demanded that Israel free inmates held from before a 1993 interim peace accord. Right-wing Israelis oppose the step because many of them were jailed for deadly attacks on Israelis.

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