Israel, Palestine hold 'positive' talks

2012-01-04 08:01

Amman - Israeli and Palestinian negotiators held a "positive" first face-to-face meeting in more than 15 months on Tuesday and agreed to meet again on Friday, but cautioned that full-blown talks were still some way off.

"The talks and atmosphere were positive," Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh told reporters after the talks in Amman between Israel's chief negotiator Yitzhak Molcho, his Palestinian counterpart Saeb Erakat and Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh.

Washington too welcomed what it described as a "positive development" after months of deadlock in peace talks over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's refusal in 2010 to renew a freeze on most settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

Judeh, who hosted the meeting in the Jordanian capital, voiced cautious optimism. "The two sides expressed their commitment to a two-state solution. We do not want to raise the level of expectations, but at the same time we do not want to minimise the importance of this meeting," he said.

"The Palestinians submitted a paper on borders and security. The Israeli side received it, promising to study it and respond," he said.

A Palestinian official close to the talks told AFP that "the meeting on Tuesday... brought nothing new because the Israeli delegation did not bring up any new element during the discussions."

But "we agreed to have a second meeting on Friday in Amman under the auspices of the Quartet and in the presence of Jordan", he said, on condition of anonymity.

Positive development

He was referring to the international Middle East Quartet that includes the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas had earlier said that the Palestinians were looking for find "the right foundation" to resume talks with Israel.

"We hope Jordanian efforts work," he was quoted as saying by Jordan's state-run Petra news agency.

Earlier this week, Israeli cabinet minister Dan Meridor said the fact that a meeting was taking place was "a positive development" but that it did not in itself constitute a return to direct talks.

Erakat made the same point in an interview with Voice of Palestine radio.

"This meeting will be devoted to discussing the possibility of making a breakthrough that could lead to the resumption of negotiations. Therefore, it will not mark the resumption of negotiations," he said on Monday.

Direct talks ground to a halt in September 2010, when an Israeli freeze on new West Bank settlement construction expired and Netanyahu declined to renew it.

"We will see what the Quartet's position will be in this meeting and if it is willing to seriously address the obstacles to the peace process and negotiations put by Israel," PLO secretary general Yasser Abed Rabbo told Voice of Palestine.

Abbas met with US envoy David Hale in Ramallah late on Monday and told him there would be no resumption of talks unless Israel froze settlement construction and accepted the 1967 borders as the basis for peace talks, a Palestinian official told AFP.

Comprehensive proposals

The Quartet has been trying to draw the two sides back to the negotiating table, asking them for comprehensive proposals on territory and security.

White House spokesperson Jay Carney acknowledged the difficulties President Barack Obama faced in getting a resumption of talks.

"He is doing everything he can to bring them together at the table," Carney said.

"And this is obviously a challenging issue - it has been so for a long time. But the president's very focused on doing what he can to make it happen."

Abed Rabbo said Washington wanted the talks to restart "without any preconditions or promises on settlement expansion.

"This does not fulfil the conditions for a resumption of negotiations nor does it enable any negotiations to succeed", he said.

The meeting sparked an angry reaction from the Islamist Hamas movement which has controlled the Gaza Strip since ousting Abbas's forces in 2007.

"Going to such a meeting is only betting on failure," Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP on Monday.

  • Richard - 2012-01-04 08:49

    Good news. I hope they can find a lasting solution.

      Jaba - 2012-01-04 09:01

      me to, hoping for the best, but deep down know that without unity within the Palestinian factions there could never be peace... even though the PA might look to the direction of peace, their brethren, Hamas want war and the killing of all Israelis - just google their murderous charter and read for yourself how they promise to never make peace with Israel.

      Barry - 2012-01-04 09:05

      There are also extremists in Israel who do not want lasting peace. It is going to take very brave people on both sides to get them into line.

      Dayaan - 2012-01-04 11:16

      I hope that they can get lasting peace. @ Jaba you refer to Hamas but what about Jewish Defense League, Kach, Kahane Chai, Chabad Lubavitch, Cushim Ivrim and Yeshiva to name just a few these are radical Jewish groups that even the USA have banned. They carry out daily atrocities which the media ignores and although they are banned in the USA they are funded by US donors. They are major obstacles to peace just as other extremist groups are

      BA - 2012-01-04 11:20

      At Dayaan: Yoh yoh yoh but you can talk rubbish hey Dayaan? Jewish Defense League, Yeshiva, Chabad Lubavich - these are radical groups? What daily atrocities do they commit - wearing hats? Ho ho ho, you make me laugh.

      Dayaan - 2012-01-04 11:34

      @ BA do your research i bet you have never heard of any of them. You will find that they are on the US terrorism watch list even Shin Bet (Israeli Secret Service) are keeping an active watch over them.

      Graziella - 2012-01-04 12:13

      @Jaba Have you looked at the Likud charter?

      BA - 2012-01-04 14:05

      Dayaan you are hilarious. Yeshiva is a Jewish educational institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud and Torah study. It's not even an organization, it's a noun, like "school". Chabad Lubavitch is just a branch of Judaism. There are no recorded acts of any violence or terrorism carried out by Chabad Lubavitch, unless you call charity work "terrorism". Kach and Kahane Cach were banned by Israel itself, which just proves that Israel is a fair country with an excellent human rights record that does not accept the kind of violence and racism that hamas and most arab governments proudly promote.

      Dayaan - 2012-01-04 14:46

      @BA I said do your research. This is from Haaretz: "Rabbis and teachers from Yeshiva, which offer Torah studies alongside military service, released a letter to students in which they reiterated their assertion that soldiers must refuse orders if they are commanded to evacuate settlements, arguing that Torah law is above the Israel Defense Forces. The letter emphasizes the importance of enlisting to the military, but instructs soldiers to adhere to Jewish law when it conflicts with orders handed down from superiors.This letter comes as yeshiva heads closed ranks around Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, whose declarations in support of soldier insubordination caused Defense Minister Ehud Barak to oust his Har Bracha yeshiva from its hesder arrangement with the IDF. Unfortunately, the IDF has been used for purposes unrelated to Israel's defense and directly opposed to God's wishes for quite some time, the rabbis wrote in the letter. This situation faces IDF soldiers with a contradiction between Jewish commandments and commanders' orders.We are committed to teach that loyalty to the lord comes before any other loyalty, whether to the army or to the government.The document concluded with the rabbis' assertion that they are guiding their students to be loyal soldiers through their commitment to the word of God.Earlier Thursday, Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin addressed the rift between the IDF and the hesder yeshivas, calling on Barak to devise a solution and to avoid political motives.

      Dayaan - 2012-01-04 14:55

      #BA The FBI lists Chabad Lubavitch as a Radical Jewish Supremacist Hate Group, sure they are involved in charity work just as Hamas is also involved in charity work. How many extremist groups are also involved in charity groups.

      BA - 2012-01-04 17:16

      Dayaan - maybe you read that Chabad is a "radical Jewish supremacist hate group" on a ku kux klan website or some other Jew-hating site which you frequent, but your information is just plain wrong. Honestly, your facts are just plain incorrect. Really - if you are basing your opinions on information like that then you are misguided, ignorant and foolish.

  • Garth - 2012-01-04 12:06

    Dayaan - Please provide proof of `daily atrocities' committed. No one is innocent; but some are a little more guilty than others.

      Dayaan - 2012-01-04 12:21

      Here is something that did make the news although as a by-line on 14 and 15 December 2011 within 24Hrs two mosques firebombed, one by Israeli extremists in West Jerusalem and another by Jewish settlers in Burqa village, east of Ramallah. Do some research and you will find many more atrocities. These extremists are found mainly in settlements that are illegal under International Law. (but of course Israel and the USA are above International law since International law does not apply to them unless someone else infringe it then they want to call foul)

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