King Abdullah of Jordan 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Jordan's King Abdullah expressed cautious optimism after three rounds of
talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Amman, saying that
both sides were "looking for a way out" of the difficult positions they
have entrenched themselves in.
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The Jordanian monarch spoke to The Washington Post
in an interview published Tuesday ahead of a meeting with US President Barack Obama, in which he was expected to update the US president on the status of the negotiations.
"I am cautious about saying that I’m cautiously optimistic,” the Post
quoted King Abdullah as saying.
do believe they want a way out, a way to get to negotiations,” Abdullah
said. “We all know the positions in which they have entrenched
themselves. However, the intent, I believe, is there — from both sides.
It is little baby steps, right at the beginning," he stated.”
The Jordanian leader's comments came as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas traded barbs
in the media on Monday.
Netanyahu accused the Palestinians of breaking their pledge to keep the content of the talks in Amman confidential.
“There was a commitment made by the parties in Jordan that they would be
very discreet about the negotiations,” Netanyahu told the Foreign
Affairs and Defense Committee at the Knesset.
Instead, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has leaked information to the media, the prime minister said.
“He keeps talking, and talking and talking,” Netanyahu said.
At a press conference in London, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Abbas had equally harsh words to say about Netanyahu. During the three
meetings in Amman between Erekat and the prime minister’s envoy Yitzhak
Molcho, the Israelis had failed to put forward any proposal for the
peace process, Abbas said.
“We hope that Prime Minister Netanyahu is going to submit some proposal
to us. We do not care what type of proposal. Maybe we’ll agree to it,
we’ll not agree to it, but the main thing is that he should submit some
kind of proposal to us,” Abbas said.
“Unfortunately until now – and this goes until yesterday – no such proposal has been submitted to the Palestinians,” he added.
Underneath the accusations that flew between the two leaders is a deep divide over the future of the talks.
The Palestinians have insisted that the talks should adhere to the
timetable of January 26 set by the Quartet, unless Israel agrees to halt
settlement activity and stop Jewish building in east Jerusalem.
Israel in turn has insisted that the three-month timetable set
for talks does not end at the end of January. Since the talks only started this month instead of
in October, Jerusalem says, their true end date is April 3.
“I hope that we can overcome this obstacle of January 26 so we can
continue the negotiations,” Netanyahu told the Knesset Foreign Affairs
and Defense Committee.
Tovah Lazaroff and Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.