Friday, December 15, 2017

Israeli, Palestinian negotiators meet in Jordan, agree to continue talks

AMMAN, Jordan — The first meeting between Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators in more than a year ended without any significant breakthroughs Tuesday, but in a small sign of progress, the sides agreed to continue the dialogue, officials said.

Resumption of any kind of contacts would be an achievement, though Israel and the Palestinians remain far from agreement on key issues to resolve their decades-long conflict.

The 15-month breakdown in negotiations has seen a progressive souring of the atmosphere, and earlier Tuesday, the Palestinian president had warned of taking tough measures against Israel if talks don't resume by Jan. 26.

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 the sides had agreed to hold further talks, some in secret.

The announcement drew praise. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon encouraged the parties "to build on this meeting and to continue working to establish forward momentum toward a lasting peace."

White House spokesman Jay Carney welcomed the "positive development." He said President Barack Obama would work with leaders in the region and do "everything he can to bring them together at the table."

The last round of peace talks broke down in September 2010 over the issue of construction in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast War. The Palestinians demand a halt to settlement construction and say they will not resume negotiations while Israel goes on building in the two areas.

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