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Israeli and Palestian Negotiators Meet to Break the Ice

It has been sixteen months since Israeli and Palestinian officials had met to discuss formal peace negotiations. Negotiations broke down in the past because Netanyahu declined to renew a 10- month freeze on building in West Bank settlements. With no pre-conditions, the ice is now broken with their meeting last week and both parties have agreed to meet again for more preliminary talks in Amman, Jordan next week. According to the Jerusalem Post (January 3, 2012), the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gave a warning before the talks began, that “Israel’s failure to accept the Palestinian demands for resuming the peace process would prompt him to take ‘hard measures.’”

The Palestinian delegation submitted a proposal on border and security issues to Israel. The Israel team said it would respond and present its ideas in a future meeting.

“The Quartet” (an international group) arranged the first meeting between Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat and Israels’ Yizhak Molcho.

These are considered “preliminary meetings. Before they reach the negotiating stage, Erakat and Molcho would have to resolve a fundamental conflict between Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas, who says peace talks can’t begin until Israel freezes West Bank settlement construction, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who says building in the settlements will continue. So, even though there were no pre-conditions for the preliminary meetings, it appears there will still be pre-conditions for negotiations.