The US State Department on Monday formally announced the resumption of direct final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, commending the "courage" of the respective leaders.

In a statement to the press, spokesman Jen Psaki stated: "Both leaders have demonstrated a willingness to make difficult decisions that have been instrumental in getting to this point," adding that the US Secretary of State John Kerry is "grateful for their leadership.”

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who heads the Israeli negotiating team, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s envoy Yitzhak Molcho left Sunday evening for the US. They were expected to hold a preliminary meeting Monday at US Secretary of State John Kerry’s home with Palestinian negotiators Saeb Erekat and Mohammad Shtayyeh, and then begin the negotiations in earnest on Tuesday.

According to the state department, the meetings are to serve as an "opportunity to develop a procedural workplan for how the parties can proceed with the negotiations in the coming months."

Kerry phoned Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Sunday evening to extend a formal invitation to the talks. According to a statement put out by the State Department, the meetings will “serve as an opportunity to develop a procedural work plan for how the parties can proceed with the negotiations in the coming months.”

The cabinet on Sunday paved the way for negotiations with the Palestinians to start informally in Washington on Monday, as it voted 13-7 to approve the talks and empower a ministerial committee to release 104 Palestinian prisoners over the next nine months.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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