Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a polarizing figure, died Saturday at age 85 after eight years in a coma.
"Our objective will be to achieve a final status agreement over the course of the next nine months," Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday after Israeli-Palestinian talks opened for the first time in three years.
This upgrades Palestine's status from mere "observer" and, without making it a full voting member of the U.N., explicitly recognizes it as a state.
Egyptian mediators are meeting with leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah and other Palestinian organizations, and with Israeli officials.
Ahmed al-Jabari and another top Hamas official Mohammed al-Hams were killed during a wave of raids in retaliation for rockets fired into southern Israel.
Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter warned during a visit to Jerusalem on Monday that the prospect of Israeli-Palestinian peace is "vanishing."
Sarsak was branded an "illegal combatant" by Israel's military judicial system, and was since imprisoned without any charges or trial.
The most volatile tinderbox area of the world where the danger of war exists is the Middle East.
Günter Grass, a Nobel Literature Prize winner, causes anger and excitement with his poem "What Must Be Said". And the subject matter is war and peace.
Palestine became UNESCO's 195th member on Monday.