Hours after Ynet first revealed
that Israel and
the Palestinians are returning to the negotiations table, the prime minister's bureau on Sunday evening announced that Attorney Yitzhak Molcho, Israel's chief negotiator to talks with the Palestinians, will travel on Tuesday to Amman and attend the Quartet meeting.
Earlier on Sunday, Ynet learned that advanced negotiations with Jordanian mediation have been launched ahead of a direct meeting between Israeli and Palestinian representatives.
"We thank the King of Jordan
and the Jordanian foreign minister for initiating this move in accordance with the Quartet's outline," said Head of the National Information Directorate Yoaz Hendel.
Sources privy to the details said the meeting between Molcho, and his Palestinian counterpart Saeb Erekat is scheduled to take place in Amman within the next 48 hours under the auspices of the Hashemite Kingdom and the Mideast peace Quartet (United States, Russia, European Union and the United Nations).
Meanwhile, Erekat confirmed attending the meeting in Amman, but emphasized that it did not constitute the renewal of negotiations.
"Netanyahu needs to freeze the construction of settlements and accept the '67 outline for a two-state solution before we return to the negotiations table," he asserted.
'Israel must freeze settlements before talks resume' (Photo: EPA)
In a conversation with Ynet, the Palestinians' chief negotiator said that he hopes the Israeli government "does not miss out on this opportunity," adding that he appreciated King Abdullah's invitation.
Erekat noted that Palestinian representatives "never stopped meeting Israelis on the security and ministerial levels." While the Palestinians accepted Jordan's invitation, Erekat stressed that "it does not constitute a return to negotiations."
In Washington, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton welcomed the move, saying: "We are hopeful that this direct exchange can help move us forward on the pathway proposed by the Quartet.
"The status quo is not sustainable and the parties must act boldly to advance the cause of peace," Clinton said in a statement.
Meanwhile, sources in Jerusalem told Ynet that the meeting in Jordan was made possible especially due to "the Palestinians' willingness to waive preconditions to the negotiations."
"Israel is allowing Jordan to mediate because they want King Abdullah in the picture," one of the sources noted, adding that "Jordan and Israel have common strategic interests, even if the Jordanians sometimes acts differently in public."
The source said that renewing the talks, under the auspices of the Quartet and the Hashemite Kingdom, also helps present a united front against Hamas, amid ongoing reconciliation talks between Palestinian factions.
"The talks are also aimed against Hamas,
which the Jordanian King can't stand, and also to strengthen ties between the two countries," said the source, adding that Jerusalem and Amman also share common interests against Iran.
Another Jerusalem official noted that the Palestinians agreed to the Quartet's outline in order to relieve some of the international pressure that was mounted on them. "They refused to hold direct talks up until now, but now they need the Europeans and the Americans," said the source.
While the source claimed it was too early to discuss a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas,
he emphasized that the prime minister is willing to meet the PA chairman "any time, any place."
Elior Levy contributed to this report