Amman talks bring nothing new: Meetings lead to other meetings
AMMAN - Talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Amman Tuesday will be followed by "exploratory meetings" up until the end of the month, the Palestinians said on Wednesday.
The talks between Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat and Israeli envoy Yitzhak Molcho, sponsored by Jordan and the peacemaking Quartet, were the first direct discussions between the sides in more than 15 months.
A Palestinian official had suggested the meeting, which was described as positive but produced no breakthroughs, would be followed by a second round of talks on Friday, also in Amman.
But Israeli media reported the next meeting was not expected before next week, and Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, said only that a series of meetings were expected to follow Tuesday's talks.
"Exploratory meetings will be undertaken with the participation of our brothers in Jordan up until end of the month," he said in a statement.
"Yesterday's one came in the context of these exploratory meetings.
"The Palestinian side is ready to make all possible efforts towards a resumption of negotiations," he said.
But he reiterated the Palestinian position that negotiations could not resume without a freeze on settlement construction and a framework for talks based on the lines that existed before the 1967 Six-Day War.
He urged the Israeli government "to announce a settlement freeze, including in east Jerusalem, and accept the principle of a two-state solution on the 1967 borders, to give Jordan's efforts to resume negotiations the chance they deserve."
Tuesday's meeting came in the context of efforts by the Quartet, made up of the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia, to kick-start talks that ground to a halt shortly after they began in September 2010.
The group has called on both sides to present comprehensive proposals on borders and security before January 26, with an eye to resuming direct talks shortly afterwards.
However, there was little optimism about Tuesday's meeting on either side, with the Palestinians eager to insist that the talks were not an official resumption of negotiations.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, who hosted the meeting in the Jordanian capital, tried to temper expectations.
"The two sides expressed their commitment to a two-state solution. We do not want to raise the level of expectations, but at the same time we do not want to minimise the importance of this meeting," he said on Tuesday.
"The Palestinians submitted a paper on borders and security. The Israeli side received it, promising to study it and respond," he said.