Israeli and Palestinian Authority negotiators on Tuesday night concluded a third meeting as part of the renewed peace talks between the sides.
The meeting, reportedly held at an undisclosed location in Jerusalem, was described as “serious”. The sides agreed to meet again soon.
As usual, Israel was represented at the meeting by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s envoy Yitzhak Molcho. The PA side was represented by chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and Mohammed Shtayeh.
The late evening meeting, which ended shortly before midnight, was the second meeting of the day between the sides. Earlier Tuesday, a senior PA official revealed to AFP on condition of anonymity that the negotiators met secretly in Jerusalem.
Details of the discussions were not revealed, apparently consistent with a request from Washington last week for a strict news blackout. The official added that U.S. Secretary of State Kerry's special envoy Martin Indyk met PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Monday to keep up pressure to continue negotiations "despite continued settlement building, which is the biggest obstacle to talks carrying on."
The sides also met for around five hours last Wednesday evening. Those talks were described as “long and serious” and the parties agreed to meet again within days.
The U.S.-brokered 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.