U.S. Envoy Meets Palestinians, Israelis Again After Late-night Talks End in Deadlock

Israeli official says Sunday meeting was positive and serious but disagreements remained unchanged.


U.S. special envoy Martin Indyk held a second meeting in Jerusalem on Monday evening with the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams, less than a day after the previous triumvirate ended in a deadlock following four hours of talks.

Indyk is the region seeking to find a solution to the crisis in peace talks.

A senior Israeli official said that the meeting on Sunday was positive and serious, but that most of the disagreements remained unchanged.

The meeting, attended by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Netanyahu's envoy Isaac Molho, and senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, and Majed Faraj, the head of Palestinian intelligence services, ended just after midnight.

"There is tension but there are also serious intentions to try and solve the crisis," the official said. "There are still disagreements regarding the best way to overcome the current situation."

Meanwhile, those on the Palestinian side sounded more pessimistic. A senior Palestinian official told AFP that the meeting was very tense and that the Israelis refused to go ahead with the release of the fourth group of prisoners. He said that the Israeli negotiators focused on voicing threats against the Palestinians.

A U.S. official said Monday morning that the meeting between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators was serious "and constructive and both sides requested that the United States convene another meeting today to continue the effort."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has demanded that the Palestinians revoke their request to join 15 United Nations institutions as a condition for discussing the release of prisoners. During the cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu warned that Israel will take its own unilateral steps as a response to the Palestinians' move. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday that he will support the prisoner release deal only if the Palestinians stop their unilateral steps at the UN. 

Tomer Appelbaum and Reuters