Israel-PA Meeting Ends After Five Hours
Israeli and Palestinian Authority negotiators met for around five hours on Wednesday evening.
Israeli media reported that the meeting began shortly before 7:00 p.m. and ended just before midnight.
According to the reports, the talks were “long and serious” and the parties agreed to meet again within days.
Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni's office said earlier that there would be no statements or pictures from the meeting, reported AFP.
Israeli television and newspapers said the meeting was held at an undisclosed location in Jerusalem.
The U.S. State Department said last week that the Jerusalem talks would be followed by a further round in Jericho, PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat's hometown.
State-owned Channel One TV said that contrary to expectations, Secretary of State John Kerry's special envoy Martin Indyk was not at Wednesday's meeting.
The talks are taking place against the backdrop of ongoing tension over Israeli building in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. Despite having been informed of the building prior to talks, and despite the fact that the construction will take place in areas which even the PA has accepted in previous negotiations will be within Israeli borders, Palestinian Authority officials and their supporters have expressed outrage at the plans.
Another backdrop to the renewed talks was the release of 26 PA terrorists, many of whom were convicted of murdering Israeli civilians. 15 were transferred to Gaza, and another 11 were received by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, to scenes of public jubilation.
As the 11 terrorists who were freed to Ramallah arrived at their destination, they were welcomed by thousands of cheering PA Arabs and were escorted to the Muqataa compound, where they were greeted by Abbas.
"This is the first group," Abbas told the crowd at the official welcoming ceremony. "We shall continue until we free all the prisoners from Israeli jails," he added.
The Hamas terrorist rulers of Gaza did not comment on the prisoner release but slammed Abbas's rival administration for entering talks with Israel.
"It is a national crime which will have serious consequences for our people and their rights and unity," said spokesman Fawzi Barhum, according to AFP.