The hot-button issue of military checkpoints in the West Bank again threatened to derail otherwise hopeful negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on Sunday but in a far more direct way than
A delegation of Palestinian negotiators was held up for 25 minutes at a checkpoint en route to a crucial meeting in Jerusalem with Israeli diplomats as both sides step up efforts to draft a joint statement meant to serve as a blueprint for negotiations at the upcoming peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland.
The PA's top negotiator, Ahmed Qureia, said his team was asked to keep waiting at the checkpoint but the delegation decided to backtrack and cancel the meeting with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
Livni contacted Qureia upon being informed of the incident and apologized profusely for what had transpired and implored her counterpart to reschedule the meeting. Officials in Jerusalem said the army would be ordered to conduct a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding the delay.
Qureia was issued a permanent entry permit to enter Jerusalem freely after being appointed the Palestinian's lead representative in talks with Israel. Over the past week he and Livni have met in Jerusalem for three negotiation sessions which have tentatively been described as successful.
PA officials said that Qureia had coordinated his passage in advance for Sunday with both the local District Coordination Office and the IDF.
But Israeli security forces said that they had not been informed of the visit in advance and that after receiving confirmation that Qureia was indeed expected in Jerusalem, authorized his entry.