Livni, Erekat Meet to Try and Make Up

Israeli, Palestinian Authority negotiators hold nighttime meeting in an effort to save 'peace talks.'

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Shimon Cohen, Gil Ronen,

Negotiators Saeb Erekat and Tzipi Livni (arch
Negotiators Saeb Erekat and Tzipi Livni (arch

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni met with Palestinian Authority (PA) chief negotiator Saeb Erekat Monday night in an effort to salvage the “peace talks” between Israel and the PA, after an acrimonious meeting Sunday.

The contents of the meeting were not disclosed, and both sides are attempting to keep the press from learning too much about what went on there.

Two senior members of Tzipi Livni's Hatnua party, Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz and MK Amram Mitzna, have called in the last 48 hours to leave the Coalition because of the failure of the talks. If Hatnua leaves the Coalition, only 62 MKs would remain in it, making it much less stable than it currrently is.

The White House has expressed cautious satisfaction with the attempts by Israel and the PA to keep negotiating, despite the apparent impasse that the talks have reached.

The top levels of the US Administration will hold a discussion Monday night in an attempt to reassess the negotiations and the role of the US in them. The Administration still maintains that the gaps between Israel and the PA are bridgeable. White House sources said that Livni and Erekat have committed to keep trying to reach common ground, and that this commitment gives reason for hope that progress can be made despite the difficulties.

Last week, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas scuppered talks by breaking the terms of negotiations and pursuing unilateral membership in 15 UN-linked agencies. A top US diplomat warned there are "limits" to the time and energy Washington could inject into a process which appears to have made no progress amid bitter recriminations and moves Washington has described as "unhelpful".