Last updated: 14 January, 2012

Palestinians and Israelis in more exploratory talks

Palestinian and Israeli delegates met on Saturday in Jordan for a third “exploratory” meeting on the possibility of a resumption of peace talks, a Jordanian official said.

“The third meeting between Palestinian delegate Saeb Erakat and Israel’s Yitzhak Molcho began on Saturday just after 8:00 pm (1800 GMT) in the presence of Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh,” the official told AFP.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official refused to disclose the location for the talks, saying only that the session was not held at the foreign ministry in Amman.

A Palestinian source said the meeting aimed to “explore a resumption of the negotiations that have been stalled since September 2010 over Israel’s refusal to stop settlements” building in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem.

“What the Israeli delegation has presented so far during these meetings is not conducive to a resumption of negotiations, and now the ball is in Israel’s court,” the Palestinian source added.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah earlier on Saturday, about 100 Palestinians protested against the meetings in Jordan.

“The Palestinian negotiators made a mistake in returning to the negotiating table on January 3 and 10, betting on the same process that failed for two decades,” the demonstrators said in a statement.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has said he will press on with a campaign for full state membership at the United Nations despite the “exploratory” talks with Israel.

On Wednesday, Erakat said the two rounds of talks that had taken place in Amman would not be translated into full negotiations without a settlement freeze and clear parameters.

“The Amman talks are intended to obtain a settlement freeze and the use of the 1967 lines as a reference for any future talks, and will be given a chance to succeed until January 26,” he told AFP.

The talks are being held under the auspices of Jordan and the peacemaking Quartet, which has called on both sides to submit comprehensive proposals on borders and security by January 26.

“If the Amman talks under the auspices of Jordan and the Quartet do not succeed by the 26th then it will not be possible to resume negotiations with Israel,” Erakat added.