No breakthroughs emerged Tuesday from the first meeting between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in more than a year, the foreign minister of host Jordan said, adding the two sides agreed to keep talking and meet next week.
The minister, Nasser Judeh, said the talks were held in a positive atmosphere. Although there were no breakthroughs on matters of "substance," he said, "the important thing is the two sides have met face to face."
"We agreed that the discussions will be continuous," he said, "and will take place here in Jordan."
Meeting in Amman (Photo: AFP)
A diplomat who attended the larger meeting said the talks were "serious."
"It was a brainstorming session in which both sides, the Israelis and Palestinians, showed eagerness to restart peace negotiations," the diplomat said. He declined to elaborate and insisted on anonymity, saying a public comment could adversely affect the sensitive meeting.
During the meeting Attorney Molcho conveyed a message from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that he should take the opportunity to return to the negotiating table.
The meeting primarily addressed ways to create a direct line of communication between Netanyahu and Abbas. Israel expressed willingness to accept the Quartet's conditions which place a one year deadline on negotiations. It is possible Abbas and Netanyahu will meet soon.
The Quartet has been working for months to restart peace talks. The international group hopes to broker a final peace agreement by the end of the year.
The Jordanian FM noted that Erekat presented his outlook on borders and security and that Molcho received a Palestinian mission statement and promised to study it in the next few days.
"We are working to achieve a final agreement between Israel and the Palestinians by the end of this year. We don't want to raise expectations but also not underestimate today's meeting," Judeh said.
UN welcomes talks
At the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed Tuesday's talks. "The secretary-general encourages the parties to build on this meeting and to continue working to establish forward momentum toward a lasting peace," said a statement issued by his office.
Talks have been stalled since September 2010, when a 10-month Israeli moratorium on new construction in settlements expired.
Ahead of Tuesday's meeting, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that if Israel accepts his conditions, "we will go to negotiations." He said the Palestinians have set a Jan. 26 deadline for talks to resume. "After that date, we will take new measures. These measures might be hard," he said.
Palestinian officials have said they are considering resuming their push for UN membership as well as ways to isolate Israel at the United Nations, such as a new resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Attila Somfalvi and Elior Levy contributed to this report
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