Israeli and Palestinian officials met Monday morning before the shooting deaths of three Palestinians by the IDF in Kalandiya, the reason Israeli officials declined throughout the day to confirm claims by Palestinian officials that the talks were called off because of the incident.
According to a Channel 2 report, Israel has made clear in the talks – which have been described as “serious” – that it was willing to talk about land swaps and the Jordan Valley.
Monday’s talks between Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat was the fourth meeting since the talks were launched last month in Washington.
The talks have been held under a thick shroud of secrecy, with neither dates nor times announced in advance, let alone the content of the discussions..
One Israeli official deflected calls for Israel to scale back nightly operations inside the Palestinian areas during the negotiations in order to create a better climate.
“We will act as is necessary to protect the Israeli public,” the official said.
“Israel did not want to see the sort of violence we saw today. Our forces were acting in self-defense.”
Regarding the impact the incident is likely to have on the fledgling negotiations, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev said, “I hope we can reach a situation in which Israeli police no longer have to enter places like Kalandiya in search of the perpetrators of terror and violence.”
The issue of the negotiations was raised during a meeting Monday night between Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin and visiting Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide.
Eide, in the country to prepare for the donor’s conference – which Norway chairs – on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly next month, also met Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. He is scheduled to go to Ramallah and meet PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday. He will not meet Netanyahu, who is currently on a scaled-down vacation.
Eide, who visited Hebron on Monday and met with members of the Norwegian- led Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), also met US special envoy Martin Indyk.
A Norwegian English website called “The Local” quoted Eide on Sunday as telling the Norwegian wire service NTB that “I believe it’s correct and honest of us to say to both sides that either this new round of talks can create the platform to reach the goal, or we have to bury the vision of a two-state solution that was created in Oslo.”
Eide was quoted as saying that Netanyahu “sounds increasingly credible” regarding his willingness to reach a deal, and pointed to the recent release of Palestinian prisoners as an indication.
“That wasn’t an especially big sacrifice, but it was a first sign,” he said of the Israel’s release of 26 convicted terrorists.