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Chief Israeli, Palestinian Envoys Meet In Jordan


Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas

The chief Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators today have met to discuss the prospects for reviving peace talks.

The meeting in Amman on January 3 brought together Israeli negotiator Yitzhak Molcho and his Palestinian counterpart Saeb Erekat.

After the meeting, the two men went into talks with their Jordanian host, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, to exchange positions on key issues of security and borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state.

Judeh later said that no breakthroughs emerged from the first meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators. But he said the two sides had agreed to keep talking.

The meetings were held alongside a gathering of representatives from the international Quartet of Middle East mediators – the European Union, Russia, the United Nations, and the United States.

Ahead of the meeting in Jordan, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas said that if Israel accepts Palestinian conditions, "we will go to negotiations."

Abbas did not elaborate, but said the Palestinians have set a January 26 deadline for talks to resume.

He also threatened to take "new measures" against Israel if the meetings failed to revive peace talks.

Abbas did not give any details of these measures but sources say they could include more action at the United Nations.

The meetings do not mark the start of formal negotiating sessions between the Israelis and Palestinians, and officials from all sides have sought to downplay expectations about any possible results.

Two-State Solution

"We believe now it is up to the Israeli government whether to choose the continuation of the petty politics, scoring points, finger-pointing, or to stand tall and take the right track," Palestinian negotiator Erekat said on January 2.

For his part, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak intimated that he expected the Palestinians to "come without preconditions" to the meetings and that "the chance to start negotiations will be clarified."

"The whole issue is very important for the state of Israel. I think it is very important for the Palestinians," he said. "It is very important to anyone who cares about the continuation of movement towards a two-state solution."

U.S.-backed peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians broke down in September, 2010.

The Palestinians have said they will only resume negotiations when Israel freezes settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israel says talks should resume without preconditions.

compiled from agency reports

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