Israelis may be prepared to talk with Palestinians
JERUSALEM — The prospect for resuming direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority appeared to gain at least a little traction Sunday, despite the opposition of Palestinian leaders to enter into negotiations until Israel freezes settlement construction in the West Bank.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would travel to Cairo this week to solicit help from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in persuading the Palestinian Authority to resume direct talks.
U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell is expected to meet the Palestinian leadership this week to present some Israeli concessions that the administration hopes will persuade Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to drop his opposition to sitting down with the Israelis.
Abbas dismissed last week’s calls for another round of direct talks as “pointless.” The Palestinians want Netanyahu to stop all Israeli construction in the West Bank as a condition for coming to the table.
But the sense of momentum was fueled by a public meeting Sunday between Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni and former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Korei in Jerusalem. Two years ago, Livni and Korei had a standing rendezvous at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel, at least twice a week, to hash over hotly disputed issues such as borders and refugees.
They agreed substantial progress had been made on major issues when the talks broke down and that any future discussions should pick up where they left off.