Israeli, Palestinian Delegates to Meet for Third Round of Direct Talks

Negotiators to hold meetings in Amman under the auspices of Jordan's King Abdullah, who will visit U.S. President Barack Obama next week to review developments.

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Israelis and Palestinians will hold their third round of face-to-face meetings this year on Saturday in what diplomats hope might lead to the resumption of full peace talks, sources on each side said on Friday.

The exploratory discussions began on January 3 and followed a long break in negotiations after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas suspended talks 15 months ago over Israel's expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting in 2010. The two leaders distrust each other.Credit: AP

Abbas on Thursday played down prospects of any breakthrough, telling members of his Fatah party that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had not put forward any new proposals.

"The words that we heard in Netanyahu's residence (in (2010 are the same words he is repeating now, nothing new," Abbas said, adding that he had told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the apparent lack of progress.

Abbas is due to travel to London, Berlin and Moscow over the next 10 days to discuss the situation.

The "Quartet" of international peace mediators - the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations - sought in October to revive the peace talks, which broke down weeks after they began in 2010.

The Quartet wants the two sides to state their positions on the borders
and security arrangements of a future "two-state solution" by January 26 to help open the door to a resumption of full negotiations.

U.S. officials have signaled that the January 26 target date for the two sides to exchange proposals could slide.

An internal European Union report, leaked to reporters this week, warned that the chances of creating a workable Palestinian state alongside Israel were being eroded by constant Jewish settlement building and restrictions on Palestinian economic activity and demographic growth.

"The window for the two-state solution is rapidly closing," said the report, put together by EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah.

The negotiators are holding their meetings in Amman under the auspices of Jordan's King Abdullah, who will visit U.S. President Barack Obama next week to review developments.



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