Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat, a vocal critic of the artists' boycott on the newly opened cultural center in the West Bank town of Ariel, plans to meet some of the boycott's organizers, in what could be the first reconciliatory step amid a flurry of incendiary remarks from both camps.

In September, a group of theater actors and public figures signed a petition saying they would not perform in the new Ariel arts center as a protest of Israel's settlement policies. The protest was supported by over 150 academics who signed the petition.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman had said that he would act against the boycotting artists by halting direct funding of their overseas travel expenses and by preventing their appearances before state bodies. More recently, a group of leading Israeli film and television artists also signed an online petition supporting the right of theater actors to refuse to perform in Ariel.

Earlier this month, Livnat severely criticized the moves, saying the boycott, which she called a "recycled attempt of a handful of people to boycott the people of Ariel," is wrong.

"The residents of Ariel are equal citizens of Israel and are entitled to cultural rights just like anyone else in the country," Livnat had said at the time.

However, yesterday Haaretz learned that Livnat was to meet some of the boycott's organizers, at the encouragement of Dimona mayor Meir Cohen and other members of the national local councils' governing body. Livnat indicated she would attend the meeting, planned for 5 P.M. today, scheduled to take place during a meeting of the local councils' culture committee. Prominent artists' representatives, such as head of the Israeli screen actors union (Shaham ) Dvir Bendek, head of the writers' association Leora Kamenetzky and Rani Blair, who serves as head of the director's union, will also participate in the meeting.

Cohen, who mediated the meeting, said he was positive that "through dialogue we can find solutions and stop boycotts on either side."