Israeli, Palestinian Leaders to Meet, Discuss Negotiations

Washington, April 4 — Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are scheduled to meet in Jerusalem next week and exchange letters urging each other to return to the negotiating table.

But while Israel is expected to call for the Palestinians to resume talks without preconditions, the Palestinians will insist that Israel first stop building in Jerusalem and the West Bank and agree to negotiate based on the 1967 armistice lines.

"When Israel accepts these two obligations, we will be ready to return to the negotiations,” PA President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday.

Abbas has spoken in recent days about delivering the letter to Netanyahu, with President Obama asking him to refrain from doing so.

Netanyahu’s letter, meanwhile, is to be sent as a response to Abbas and will state Israel’s willingness to discuss a range of fundamental topics ranging from security and Palestinian refugees to new construction and the status of Jerusalem. The letter also will encourage the Palestinians to negotiate without preconditions and recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The Palestinians have so far refused to recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland.

The two sides last met in January in Jordan under the sponsorship of King Abdullah II and the Middle East Quartet, which comprises the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia. But as in the past, the talks ended when the Palestinian delegation walked out because Israel wouldn’t agree to the Palestinians’ precondition on new building.

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