Israeli-Palestinian talks are likely to be renewed on July 30 in the United
States, Regional Cooperation Minister Silvan Shalom (Likud) said on Thursday in
Jericho, while making the first visit by a high-ranking Israeli official to Area
A of the West Bank in over four years.
“We hope that the talks will begin
next week in Washington between Israeli and Palestinian representatives,” Shalom
“We in Israel are ready to go there next week, we have said it to
the Americans,” he said.
“As I understand today, I think the Palestinians
will decide to come next week, but I cannot speak on behalf of the Palestinians.
But if they do so, the negotiations will start next Tuesday,” he said.
spoke with reporters at a press conference with Palestinian Planning Affairs
Minister Muhammad Abu Ramadan, Jordanian Interior Minister Hussein Hazza
al-Majali and Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Fumio Kishida.
about the peace process and the pending opening of a new industrial park in
Jericho in 2014, in which the Japanese have invested $200 million.
also held a 20-minute private meeting with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb
Erekat while in Jericho’s InterContinental Hotel. Shalom later told journalists
that they spoke about the terms for renewed talks. He added that he understood
that the Palestinians have not completed the approval process for direct
negotiations, which have been largely frozen since December 2008.
Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement of renewed talks, Shalom said, had
already led to a different atmosphere with the Palestinians, which was evident
in his meetings that morning.
“Both sides want to renew the talks,” he
He added that he believed it was too late for the Palestinians to
The presence of a Jordanian minister in Jericho this morning is
“very telling,” Shalom said.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II has invested a lot
of energy behind the scenes in bridging the gap between Israel and the
Palestinians, Shalom said.
There are always some last minute difficulties
when embarking on a process like this, Shalom said. But then once the process
starts, it flows, he added.
Israel, he said, was able to reject
Palestinian demands for preconditions including talks based on the pre-1967
lines and a freeze of West Bank settlement activity and Jewish building in east
The Palestinians, he said, had wanted a commitment that talks
would deal first with borders. But in the end, talks would resume on all core
issues, Silvan said.
“They wanted a freeze before the talks and during,
but we did not agree,” Shalom said.
“At the end, even the Americans
understood that to renew the talks in a real way that would lead to peace, you
have to get rid of preconditions,” Shalom said.
However, he explained
that the government would vote on the release of Palestinian prisoners once all
the problems relating to the start of talks have been worked out.
is a painful, difficult and problematic step,” he said. But it should not be
confused with Palestinian demands with regard to the final status agreement,
In Washington at a State Department briefing, deputy spokeswoman
Maria Harf said that no final date had been set for the resumption of
“We expect the parties to meet here in Washington soon. We would
caution against any conjecture and speculation,” Harf said.
At a joint
press conference in New York with Kerry, United Nations Secretary- General
Ban-Ki Moon said, “I strongly urge the leaders of Palestine and Israel to seize
this opportunity and respond positively and courageously so that the twostate
solution can be realized as soon as possible.”
Kerry referred to the
conflict as the “granddaddy of them all.”
He said, “Both leaders in the
region, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas, have made a courageous
decision to try to return to final-status talks. And it’s my hope that [this]
will be able to happen as procedures are put in place by both countries in order
to empower that.”
Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a spokesman for Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said that the PA had yet to receive an
invitation from the United States to come to Washington.
delegation is ready,” he said. “We are committed to the meeting that was agreed
to be held in Washington to discuss the issues.”
When the Washington
meeting occurs, Israel is expected to send Justice Minister Tzipi LIvni and
special envoy Yitzhak Molcho. It is unclear who would travel to Washington from
the Palestinian side.Reuters contributed to this report.
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