Israel and Palestine to meet over peace process

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with Palestinian premier Salam Fayyad in coming weeks, Israeli and Palestinian officials said on Wednesday.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu will meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad,” the Israeli premier’s spokesperson Ofir Gendelman said in a statement posted on his official Twitter feed.

He had initially said the meeting would take place next week but later clarified that it would occur after the Jewish holiday of Passover which begins at sundown on Friday and ends on April 13.

Palestinian officials confirmed the meeting and said Fayyad would hand Netanyahu a letter from Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas about the stalled peace process.

“A Palestinian delegation will take a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” Nimr Hammad, an advisor to Abbas said on Wednesday.

Several rounds of meetings
He said Fayyad would be joined by senior Palestinian official Yasser Abed Rabbo and negotiator Saeb Erakat.

Gendelman said Netanyahu would send his own letter to Abbas after the talks.

“Prime minister’s envoy [Yitzhak] Molcho will deliver a letter from the prime minister to president Abbas following the meeting,” he wrote.

Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been on hold since September 2010 but Jordan and the peacemaking Quartet sponsored several rounds of meetings between envoys from each side in January.

Those talks, held in Amman, were intended to pave the way back to direct negotiations, but ended without agreement on how they might resume.

Stalled process
With the process stalled, Abbas has reportedly prepared a letter restating Palestinian terms for returning to negotiations and warning that the status quo risks rendering the Palestinian Authority useless.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Tuesday that the letter would not include any threats by Abbas to dismantle the Palestinian Authority, as had previously been reported.

But on Monday, the Palestinian leader said his message would contain a warning for the Israeli leader.

“You have made the Palestinian Authority a non-Authority. You have taken from it all its specialisations and commitments,” he said in Cairo, quoting from the letter.

Israel says it wants to return to the talks without preconditions but the Palestinians want clear parameters for discussions and an Israeli settlement freeze before they resume negotiations. — AFP

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