Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday morning met US Mideast envoy George Mitchell in Jerusalem.Barak expressed hope that proximity talks would lead to direct talks in the future between Israel and the Palestinians.
Mitchell to launch proximity talks
PM: No agreement on land swaps
Barak went on to say he is confident that the issue is in its first stages and it is possible to go above and beyond the day-to-day events to a true level of political development. He asserted that the US also supports this policy.
For his part, Mitchell expressed hope that the talks would lead to direct negotiations, and said that during this period it is up to both sides to demonstrate restraint and prevent confrontation.
Abbas will also meet with Mitchell on Friday to continue talks.
Mitchell visited Israel in May to launch proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The talks focused on final-status issues in general and on borders and security in particular. Mitchell presented the Palestinians with verbal, professional and legal questions.
The May talks did not produce any concrete results with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stressing that no agreement had been reached on the issue of land swaps. Netanyahu stated that Mitchell had yet to approach the Israeli government with such a proposal from the Palestinian side.
Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.