Middle East News
3RD Lead: Palestinians, Israelis to hold series of talks in Amman
Jan 3, 2012, 21:04 GMT
Amman - The Palestinians and Israelis agreed Tuesday to hold a series of February meetings in Jordan aimed at generating an atmosphere conducive to resuming 'serious negotiations', Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said.
The agreement was reached by chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and his Israeli counterpart Yitzhak Molcho, who met face-to-face for the first time in 16 months.
Their encounter, which was attended by Judeh, came after the two negotiators attended a meeting of the Quartet - a group comprising the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations.
'It was a positive meeting during which all parties committed themselves to the two-state solution,' Judeh told a press conference.
'However, we do not want neither to raise the ceiling of expectations nor to belittle the chances,' he added.
Judeh said that Erekat on Tuesday presented the Israeli side as well as the quartet with the Palestinian position on the twin issues of borders and security.
'Molcho promised to present the Israeli reply to the Palestinian proposal before the end of the month, when we are going to appraise the whole situation,' he added.
He said that the reference of the talks between the Palestinians and Israelis in Amman next month would be the statement issued by the Quartet on September 23.
The Quartet statement set January 26 as a deadline for the two parties to present their vision of the security and borders issues.
It also proposed a timetable for concluding a final settlement for the Palestinian-Israeli dispute by the end of 2012.
'There will be no prior announcement about the meetings in Amman and the Jordanian side will have exclusivity in making statements about their progress,' Judeh said.
'The resumption of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians represents a supreme interest for Jordan and the entire world,' he added.
Asked whether the Palestinians insisted again on freezing settlement building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank as a prerequisite for returning to the negotiating table, Judeh said, 'the entire world considers the construction of settlements illegal. The Quartet considers it a provocative action.'
The Palestinian Authority withdrew from direct talks with Israel in September 2010 after the Israeli government refused to extend a 10-month moratorium on settlement building.