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Israel's Netanyahu scores big victory with direct peace talks – for now

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that a peace treaty with the Palestinians would be possible once direct talks start next week.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday. Netanyahu spelled out his opening position for the new round of Mideast peace talks set to begin next week, insisting Sunday on key security conditions and saying an agreement would be 'difficult but possible.'

Uriel Sinai/AP

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Savoring the diplomatic victory of renewed direct peace talks announced last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet today that a peace treaty with the Palestinians would be "a difficult thing, but it is possible."

For more than a year, Mr. Netanyahu has insisted on face to face talks with the Palestinians without preconditions. By contrast, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had insisted that Israel first extend a building freeze in West Bank settlements. His acceptance of the US invitation to a Middle East peace summit to inaugurate direct talks marked a significant concession.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced Friday that Netanyahu, Mr. Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and Jordan's King Abdullah have been invited to a two-day peace summit in the United States starting Sept. 2 to kick off the talks, scheduled to last one year. The renewed peace talks after an 18 month hiatus will ease the diplomatic isolation suffered by Netanyahu since taking office in early 2009.

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