Last updated: 21 January, 2012

Palestinian youths protest against Israel talks

About 200 Palestinians staged a demonstration on Saturday in the West Bank town of Ramallah against the exploratory talks with Israel being held in Jordan.

Palestinian and Israeli negotiators have held three such meetings in Amman this month in a bid to restart direct peace talks which have been on ice since September 2010, but without any concrete results.

A Palestinian source said Saeb Erakat for the Palestinians and Israeli negotiator Yitzhak Molcho were to hold a fourth session in the Jordanian capital on Saturday night.

“Erakat, stop the negotiations!” the demonstrators, most of them youths, shouted at the rally outside the Ramallah offices of the Palestinian presidency. “Why negotiate when we are under the fire of Israeli soldiers?”

A group calling itself “Palestinians For Dignity” also organised a similar protest last week against the talks, reflecting the scepticism of Palestinian public opinion on the prospects of a breakthrough.

Both parties have made clear that the Amman meetings do not constitute a return to direct talks, although the two sides exchanged position papers when they first met on January 3.

Direct talks were suspended over Israel’s refusal to renew a freeze on settlement building.