By: Mark Leon Goldberg on July 30, 2013 Secretary of State John Kerry today kicked off the first direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in over three years. In remarks at the State Department, flanked by Israeli minister Tzipi Livni and lead Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat, John Kerry set a big, bold goal for the talks: final status agreement in the next nine months. That would mean by next spring the dream of a Two State Solution could be a reality. All issues are on the table. Even the most contentious issues like settlements, the right of return, status of Jerusalem and the precise borders will be discussed at these talks. The man at the center of it all will be John Kerry. For the past several weeks, he’s criss-crossed the region pressing Israeli and Palestinian leaders to simply agree to restart talks. That was a herculean effort, but resulted in today’s tangible outcome. Today’s breakthrough shows just how crucial American leadership is to solving this conflict. John Kerry’s personal interventions are what brought us to the start of these talks. In his remarks today, John Kerry said that all outside communication about the progress of the talks would flow through him, personally. He has very much staked his reputation on a goal that is truly audacious–ending 66 years of conflict in the next 9 months. If he can do it, John Kerry and Barack Obama will go down in the history books as the American duo that after six decades finally ended the Arab-Israeli conflict. But who said that thing about the audacity of hope?