Is­raelis may be pre­pared to talk with Pales­tini­ans

Austin American-Statesman - - MONDAY BRIEFING -

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.

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