Minister: Talks to Start Next Week

Silvan Shalom says Israel will begin talks with Abbas next week, and will free terrorists within two weeks.

Maayana Miskin, Chana Ya'ar ,

Silvan Shalom
Silvan Shalom
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are apparently going to start next Tuesday, Minister of Regional Cooperation Silvan Shalom said Thursday.

“I think the negotiations between us and the Palestinians will start next week. They’re talking about last-minute difficulties, but that’s standard for starting negotiations,” he said.

Shalom met with news media at the opening of a new industrial part in the Palestinian Authority-controlled city of Jericho, in the Beka'a Valley, along the northern tip of the Dead Sea. The project is part of an effort with the strong encouragement of Israeli President Shimon Peres to promote economic cooperation between Israel, Jordan and the PA, which has continued despite the difficulties that have arisen in the diplomatic arena.

One major component of the plan is the construction and operation of Qualifying Industrial Zones -- industrial facilities -- within Jordan and Egypt that can serve as centers of collaborative effort and serve as the basis for promotion of reconciliation, joint economic effort and dialogue between Israel and the PA.

The current project involves ongoing join efforts between Israeli and PA leaders to launch new industrial and economic projects to create new local businesses and job growth that will promote ongoing cooperation, sources said.

Shalom called to be patient regarding the matter of terrorist release. Israel is likely to begin releasing terrorists within two weeks, in time for the Muslim holiday of Id el-Fitr, he said.

However, he warned, the release could take longer, as the matter may need government approval and not only Cabinet approval.

“Israel is coming into talks with good will, with the goal of making progress, but without preconditions,” Shalom said.

“The negotiations will not be based on the ’67 lines’ and there will not be a building freeze,” he added.