Sunday 15 December 2019

Israeli and Palestinian sides bid to revive talks

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told his cabinet he is ready to continue talks
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told his cabinet he is ready to continue talks
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat (left) with Israel's Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (right) and US Secretary of State John Kerry. Following last week's breakdown in talks in the region, John Kerry voiced impatience with all sides.

Lesley Giles

Israel and the Palestinians have angrily accused each other of undermining US-led peace efforts in the region, but nonetheless signaled their readiness to find a way to revive the faltering talks.

US efforts to extend the talks past a late April deadline were thrown into disarray last week as Israel failed to carry out a planned prisoner release and the Palestinians responded by reviving a campaign for international recognition of the "state of Palestine".

Still, both sides indicated they were prepared to continue with the negotiations. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were expected to meet yesterday with US mediator Martin Indyk in a bid to get the talks back on track.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his weekly Cabinet meeting that "we are ready to continue talks", while condemning the Palestinian moves. He said a Palestinian state only would come about through negotiations.

"Unilateral steps on their part will be met with unilateral steps on our part," Mr Netanyahu said. "We are ready to continue the talks but not at any price."

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, also expressed willingness to move forward.

"We are trying to save it. I think there is a mutual interest by all parties," he told Israeli Channel 2 TV.

Following last week's breakdown, US Secretary of State John Kerry voiced impatience with all sides, saying the US would re-evaluate its role as a mediator.

Israel and the Palestinians returned to the negotiating table in July after a five-year impasse following heavy US pressure, pursuing talks that have yielded no tangible progress.

Irish Independent

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