Israel and Palestinian negotiators meeting in Amman on Tuesday for the first
direct talks in 16 months agreed to continue talking, with another round
scheduled in Jordan next week, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, who hosted the talks, said at a press conference
after the meeting that the Palestinian delegation submitted proposals on border
and security issues to Israel, and that the Israeli team took the proposals and
said it would respond and present its ideas in a future meeting. One principle
that Israel is expected to put forward is the need for an Israeli security
presence along the Jordan River in any agreement.
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The talks, which where
characterized as having taken place in a “positive” atmosphere, were divided
into two parts and lasted a total of three hours.
The first part was a
meeting that included Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s envoy Yitzhak Molcho,
PA negotiator Saeb Erekat, Judeh, Quartet envoy Tony Blair and a representative
from each of the Quartet’s members – the US, EU, Russia and the UN.
meeting was then followed by a direct meeting between Molcho and Erekat in the
presence of the Jordanian hosts.
Judeh said afterward that while there
was no breakthrough, the importance of sitting down and conducting a direct
dialogue was not insignificant.
The talks were held without
preconditions, and Judeh said that an agreement on borders and security would
end the whole issue of settlement construction.
The sides agreed that
they would not issue a statement following the meeting, and that the Jordanians
would serve as the spokesmen for the talks.
The relatively upbeat
atmosphere presented by Judeh contrasted with Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas’s warning before the talks that Israel’s failure to accept the
Palestinian demands for resuming the peace process would prompt him to take
Speaking to reporters in Ramallah, Abbas said the peace
process would not be revived unless Israel agreed to freeze settlement
construction and accepted the pre-1967 lines as the basis for a two-state
“If Israel does not accept the Palestinian demands, we will
take other measures which we cannot detail. These measures could be hard,” he
Abbas did not give details about the nature of the measures he
plans to take. However, some of his aides have hinted in the past at the
possibility that he might either resign or dismantle the PA.
that the PA leadership would have to study various options when and if efforts
to resume the peace negotiations fail. He pointed out that the Quartet had given
Israelis and Palestinians three months to work toward reviving the stalled peace
process. The deadline expires January 26.
Abbas warned that a “vacuum”
could be created after the expiration of the deadline. “We won’t be able to
continue living in a vacuum,” he cautioned.
Abbas said the results of
Tuesday’s meeting in Amman would appear within a day or two. He expressed hope
that the Jordanians would succeed in achieving a resumption of the direct peace
negotiations between the PA and Israel.
“If the Israelis comply with our
demands, we will be prepared to return to the negotiations,” the PA president
said. He said that the PA did not rule out the possibility of land swaps with
Israel as part of a twostate solution.
Meanwhile, Fatah-Tanzim leader
Marwan Barghouti said in a letter from Israeli prison that the peace process had
failed. He called on the PA leadership to stop “exporting illusions” about the
peace process and to endorse a new strategy based on popular and peaceful
protests and boycott campaigns against Israel.