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Israel, PA negotiators meet, conflicting reports over progress

Israel’s chief negotiator Tzipi Livni met yesterday with her Palestinian counterpart Saeb Erekat and US special envoy Martin Indyk with differing reports over whether progress had been made in resolving the current impasse in peace talks.

Negotiations became deadlocked last week after PA President Mahmoud Abbas applied for membership of 15 international bodies, effectively scuppering a three-way deal over Palestinian prisoners and the extension of peace talks which had appeared near completion. According to AFP, an unnamed Palestinian official is quoted saying after yesterday’s lengthy meeting, “The crisis continues … no solution to the crisis was found.” However, Ynet quotes an Israeli source saying, “We have to wait a few more days … a lot of efforts are being made to salvage the situation.” Yet, another told Ynet, “Israel is preparing to return to routine dealings with the Palestinians as they were before the negotiations started nine months ago.”

Earlier in the day, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet that Israel had “carried out difficult steps and showed a willingness … in order to create a framework that would allow for putting an end to the conflict between us.” However, Abbas’ actions last week had “violated understandings” and Netanyahu warned that “Unilateral steps on [the Palestinians’] part will be met with unilateral steps on our part. We are ready to continue the talks but not at any price.”

Erekat responded by telling Channel Two that both sides are “trying to save” the talks and commented, “I don’t think it’s in the interest of Israel to have a crash, it’s absolutely not in our interest to have a crash, it’s not in the interest of the US.” Livni meanwhile, also interviewed by Channel Two, suggested closer bilateral talks between Israel and the PA, saying “Part of what took place in the past months was primarily negotiations between us and the US, and less with the Palestinians … We need bilateral meetings between us, including between the Prime mMinister and Abu Mazen [Abbas].”


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