2nd Round Israel-PA Talks Ends in Amman
The second round of talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has ended in the Jordanian capital.
Israeli government negotiator Yitzchak Molcho and chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat met as they did last week in an effort to breathe new life into the moribund final status talks.
Representatives from the Quartet of peacekeeping nations -- the U.S., Russia, the European Union and the United Nations -- attended the meeting along with Jordanian officials.
Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad al-Kayed told the official Petra news agency in a statement following the meeting, "These meetings will continue in the coming period as agreed previously." Al-Kayed said the meeting 'dealt with a number of important issues and was open and frank, despite differences between the two parties "as expected,"' the news agency reported, but revealed nothing else.
The two sides allegedly made "no progress," according to unnamed Arab sources quoted by the Hebrew-language Ynet -- as expected by Israel's Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman earlier in the day. Lieberman told reporters the PA had only agreed to meet with Israel because it was unable to refuse a request from Jordanian King Abdullah II. Likewise, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said last week that he, too, held out little hope that any breakthrough might be seen in the talks.
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee secretary Yasser Abed Rabbo told reporters during the day on Monday that the talks were "exploratory only," scotching the likelihood there would be any real progress. "I rule out that there will be a breakthrough in these meetings as long as the Israeli government still rejects the Palestinian demands on resuming the peace talks," Abed Rabbo told reporters.
Those demands for direct final status talks include a complete halt to any form of Jewish construction in areas of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem that the PA is claiming for its hoped-for state. The PA also demands an acceptance of boundaries for Israel and the nascent PA country based on the pre-1967 lines, also known as the "Green Line" or the 1949 Armistice Line.
The Quartet is expected to convene on January 26 to decide where the responsibility lies for the obstruction in the peace process, and how to deal with the issue.