There was a bit of progress made in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, today: Peace negotiators from both sides met for the first time in more than a year. While it did not seem that the two sides came to any agreement, they said they will continue to talk.
The AP reports the talks were hosted by Jordan under the auspices of The Quartet, a group of countries that includes the U.S. and the European Union. The AP adds:
“Jordan’s foreign minister, Nasser Judeh, who hosted Tuesday’s gathering in the Jordanian capital Amman, expressed some hope. ‘The important thing is the two sides have met face to face today,’ he said.
“While acknowledging there were no breakthroughs in ‘substance,’ he praised the positive atmosphere and said sides had agreed to hold further talks, some in secret.
“‘We agreed that the discussions will be continuous, that the meetings will continue and will take place here in Jordan. And we also agreed that we should not publicize about these meetings ahead of time, except through the Jordanian host, and I tell you that you may hear about it or you may not hear about it,’ he said.”
The previous talks broke down in September of 2010 over disagreement on Israeli settlements being built in areas captured by Israel after the 1967 war. Palestinians want the building to stop and the Israelis have balked.
As the Los Angeles Times puts it, things are complicated by internal politics. “Netanyahu’s conservative, pro-settlement coalition is unlikely to enable a move requiring another settlement freeze,” reports the Times. “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas faces criticism from all sides, with Hamas assailing the meeting and jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti recently describing the peace process as ‘dead’.“
The Jerusalem Post reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s envoy to the talks, Yitzhak Molcho, and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat are due for more talks next week.