Israeli envoy Attorney Yitzhak Molcho met with Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat for the fifth time in Amman on Wednesday. Palestinian sources said at the end of the meeting that as far as they’re concerned the talks can be declared a failure.
Palestinian officials said they had made it clear to Israel in advance that only a substantial step on its part would enable the talks to continue. President Mahmoud Abbas
said he would consult with the Arab League next week to figure out how to proceed now. Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
called on the Palestinians to persist
with the talks.
During the meeting in Amman, the Palestinians stressed they insist Israel freeze settlement construction. According to Palestinian sources, Molcho raised the issue of borders but spoke in general terms and refused to produce a written document on the matter. He did not state the 1967 borders
as a basis for negotiations.
The Palestinians are claiming that the general tone adopted by Israel
is an attempt to buy time and show good will to the Quartet, which has given the sides a January 26 deadline to present their positions on borders and security. The Palestinians claim they gave their positions two months ago and are now demanding that the Quartet determine which side is responsible for the failure in the talks.
Abbas with Jordan's King Abdullah (Photo: Reuters)
A Palestinian official told the French news agency that negotiations will not resume as Israel has not shown any progress. Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, on the other hand said that the talks were serious despite the differences in positions. He added that there will not be an additional meeting next week in order to review the results and determine the next step.
Next week, after the Arab League meeting, Fatah leaders are slated to convene and decide where the Palestinian Authority will be going next. It is expected that the PLO will try to renew efforts at the UN's Security Council and other international bodies in order to put more pressure on Israel.
The European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is currently in Israel and has met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday.
She is also slated to meet Abbas in an attempt to salvage the peace process. Two officials involved in the contacts said she is trying to put together a package of Israeli incentives that would keep the Palestinians from walking away.
"We need to keep talks going and increase the potential of these talks to become genuine negotiations," Ashton said.