Israeli, PA negotiating teams to meet on Monday in Jericho
According to senior Fatah negotiator Nabil Shaath, expiration of settlement freeze has been postponed from Sept. 26 to Sept. 30 to give negotiators full month to iron out a deal.
A member of the Fatah Central Committee said on Friday that the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams will meet in the West Bank city of Jericho on Monday.
This will be the first meeting since direct negotiations began in Washington this past week.
Senior Fatah negotiator Nabil Shaath, who attended the official launch of the direct peace talks in Washington earlier this week, said a United States representative would be present at the meeting, which will also include chief Israeli and Palestinian negotiators Yitzhak Molcho and Saeb Erekat.
The meeting this upcoming week is being held to prepare for the next formal negotiating session, which is scheduled to begin on September 14 in the southern Sinai Red Sea city of Sharm al-Sheikh. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will all participate in that meeting.
Shaath said that Israel has decided to postpone the expiration date of the contentious West Bank settlement freeze from September 26 to September 30, thus giving the two sides a full month to negotiate before the building freeze expires.
"Israelis claim that they can't continue the settlement freeze while we say that we can’t continue with negotiations if settlement building continues," Shaath said. "We will continue to work seriously until the end of the month."
"We have before us a month during which we will work under the framework of preparatory meetings and summit meetings," Shaath said.
According to Shaath, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that he intends to visit the region in order to move the peace process forward, but an official date has yet to be set.
Back in Washington, Shaath said that Abbas and Netanyahu met for three hours on Thursday, focusing on four issues which remain undisclosed. During the meeting, Abbas presented Netanyahu with all of the points that he had agreed upon with former prime minister Ehud Olmert and former foreign minister Tzip Livni. During their meeting, they were joined by Clinton, who was briefed on what had been discussed.