Mideast: Israel confirms, next week Netanyahu-Fayyad talks

First meeting in many months, no resumption of negotiations

11 April, 16:38

(ANSAmed) - TEL AVIV, APRIL 11 - Today the press office of the Israeli government confirmed next week's meeting between Premier Benyamin Netanyahu and his Palestinian counterpart Salam Fayyad, the first high-level meeting in the region in many months. Fayyad will lead a small delegation of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). The meeting will reportedly be held in Jerusalem on April 17. Earlier Palestinian sources announced that talks would be held next week. Later the news was confirmed to Italian reporters by Nemer Hammad, advisor of PNA President Abu Mazen (Mahmud Abbas), on the sidelines of the visit by Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti to the Middle East. The meeting, as both sources underline, does not mean that the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are resumed. These negotiations came to a halt three years ago when the (nationalist) Netanyahu government took office, despite encouragements by the Quartet (US, Russia, EU and UN) and despite attempts made by the US and Jordan to mediate via indirect talks. Fayyad, according to the announcement, will present the content of a letter written by Abu Mazen to Netanyahu. The letter contains a request from Palestinian side to stop the further expansion of Israeli settlements in the West bank and East Jerusalem and to recognise the 1967 borders as basis to start talking again, before any attempts to resume the negotiations. So far the Netanyahu government has rejected these conditions, but the PNA refuses to talks before these conditions are met. Abu Mazen has announced - repeated by Monti - that the PNA will continue its autonomous steps towards a recognitions of the Palestinian State within 1967 borders by the UN and other international institutions if it does not receive a positive reply from Netanyahu ''within one month''. The PNA will continue on this road despite Israeli accusations of ''unilateralism'' and criticism from the U.S.(ANSAmed).

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