REPRESENTATIVES OF ISRAEL and Palestine are set to meet in Jordan in the hope of restarting peace talks which stalled more than a year ago.
However, prospects of any progress appear to be limited as there are significant differences between the two sides even for peace talks to begin.
Israel insists that the talks should be held without any preconditions, but Palestinian negotiators say that they will not come to the table until construction has ceased in West Bank settlements.
Nevertheless, both sides tried to strike an optimistic note. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokesperson Mark Regev said: “We sincerely hope that the meeting in Amman heralds the beginning of direct ongoing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to achieve peace,” the Jerusalem Post reports.
Jordanian foreign ministry spokesperson Mohammad Kayed told Al-Jazeera: “It is a serious effort to find a common ground between the two sides and help restart direct peace talks.”
It’s understood the talks – the first for 16 months – will not be negotiations in themselves, but will focus on determining conditions under which negotiations could continue.
“This meeting will be devoted to discussing the possibility of making a breakthrough that could lead to the resumption of negotiations,” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told a radio station according to AFP.
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton urged both sides to “act boldly” in finding common ground. “We are hopeful that this direct exchange can help move us forward,” she said in a statement. “The status quo is not sustainable and the parties must act boldly to advance the cause of peace.”