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Direct talks are coming -- don't let the cynics win.

Hillary Clinton just issued a formal invitation for Israel and the Palestinian Authority to begin direct peace talks on September 2nd. This is good news. It presents an opportunity for progress towards peace.

Now the real hard work must begin.  Direct talks are not an end in themselves; their only value is as a means to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

A strong American role is needed to ensure that these negotiations will be productive.

Click here to tell President Obama to make sure that direct talks are not a dead end.

The path forward is not easy.  Direct talks will be fruitless unless Israelis and Palestinians are ready to sit down and negotiate in good faith to resolve final status issues.  There is no more room for game-playing or procrastinating to avoid hard discussions and even harder decisions.

These talks will test whether Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas are able to rise to the challenge and build a better future for their peoples.
President Barack Obama must live up to his pledge to hold both parties accountable for their behavior. Neither side can be allowed to get away with actions that undercut the talks.

The Obama Administration must also press hard for progress. It must be ready to engage with its own ideas as necessary, whether in the form of parameters or bridging proposals, or a full-fledged peace plan.

Political cynics in Washington will try to discourage President Obama from expending political capital on efforts to bring peace to Israel. We cannot allow them to win. The stakes for both Israelis and Palestinians are simply too high - and vital American interests are at stake.

American leadership will be needed for this process to succeed. We know that spoilers, who oppose a two-state solution, will look for opportunities to derail this process. They simply cannot be allowed to succeed. Failure could bring about a new round of bloodshed and jeopardize American interests.

Israelis and Palestinians yearn to live in peace, security and dignity. Both publics are understandably skeptical about the prospects for these talks. But there is no alternative: A peace agreement based on a two-state solution can only be reached through negotiations.

Now is the time for Americans who care about peace to speak up.