Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met completely out of the media’s eye on Tuesday, as one meeting was held in Jerusalem during the day, with a second meeting taking place in the evening.
Reflecting US Secretary of State John Kerry’s dictate to keep the talks far from the public, there was no pre-announcement of the meetings, or any statement following them.
The existence of the daytime meeting was revealed by a senior Palestinian official who told AFP, “A meeting was held today between the Palestinian delegation, headed by Saeb Erekat and Muhammad Shtayyeh, and the Israeli delegation of [Justice Minister] Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Molcho.”
Neither Livni’s office nor the Prime Minister’s Office would confirm the meeting.
The meeting, the second in a week, was originally scheduled for Wednesday in Jericho, but was reportedly pushed ahead a day because Erekat was scheduled to travel to Russia.
The negotiators are expected to hold the next meeting in Jericho.
The first round of talks – which lasted five hours – was held last Wednesday in an undisclosed location in Jerusalem and described as “serious.”
Livni, speaking on Israel Radio, said on Tuesday that “there will be dramatic decisions” by Israel at the end of the negotiations, but the sides had agreed not to disclose details about their deliberations in order to build trust.
“We are arguing, but we are arguing inside the room,” she said.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday reiterated his commitment to a two-state solution that would see the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines with Jerusalem as its capital.
Abbas’s comments came during a meeting in his office with representatives of the Front For Democracy and Equality (Hadash) party, headed by MK Muhammad Barakei.
Abbas also accused Israel of placing “obstacles” on the way to the continuation of the peace talks by pursuing construction in settlements “in a provocative manner.” He said that Israel’s actions were in violation of “sincere intentions to achieve peace and end occupation.”
Barakei quoted Abbas as saying that progress had been achieved during the previous rounds of talks between Israel and the PA. He also quoted Abbas as saying that solutions could be reached regarding the core issues.
Reuters contributed to this report.