Palestinian officials involved in the peace negotiations with Israel reported that the talks held on Tuesday between the two negotiating teams ended in a row, with raised voices and the exchange of verbal insults.
According to reports from within the negotiation rooms, Palestinian negotiators came to the talks bearing serious concerns over the events of recent days.
Delegates Dr. Saeb Erekat and Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh criticized Israel’s announcement of settlement expansion, and the connection Israel has made between that construction and the release of Palestinian prisoners.
According to the Palestinians, Israeli attempts to present Palestinians' complicity or silence in the face of settlement expansion are misleading and completely false.
According to a senior Palestinian official, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas means to express his disappointment over the talks when he meets with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday, seeing as no progress has been made that could serve as the base of an agreement, or any kind of outline.
According to the same official, Abbas will continue to fulfill his commitment to engage in direct negotiations for a period of nine months, despite the Palestinians' seeming loss of faith over the process. Palestinian leadership, he said, does not foresee any significant progress.
Earlier this week, Abbas warned that the linkage Israel has created between freeing Palestinian prisoners and approving construction in the settlements is liable to blow up the peace talks.
U.S. envoys seek to ease tensions
On Tuesday, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met for three and a half hours in Jerusalem. The meeing, which was the sixteenth between the two sides, took place a few hours before Kerry landed in Israel. American envoy to the peace talks Martn Indyk participated in the session as well, in an effort to ease the growing tension between the two sides.
A senior Israeli official stated that despite the blame being traded by the two sides over the last few days, both parties made it clear to Indyk and Kerry that they will not leave the table, and that they intend to fulfill their commitment to engage in direct negotiations for nine months.
On Thursday morning, Kerry will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the David’s Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, and will then travel to Bethlehem to meet with Abbas. The respective negotiating teams will attend the meetings. Kerry will also meet with President Shimon Peres.
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