Israel, Palestinians to Meet Next Week

Washington, Jan. 6 - Israeli and Palestinian envoys will meet again next Monday in Jordan a bid to restart peace talks, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland confirmed Thursday.

"They're going to meet directly and they're going to make under the sponsorship of the Jordanians, and particularly Foreign Minister Judeh," she said, while praising Jordanian efforts at resuming negotiations.

The Hashemite Kingdom played host to a meeting between PLO official Saeb Erekat and Israel's Yitzhak Molcho, two longtime negotiators, last Tuesday. It marked the first direct contact between the two parties in over a year and a half. The sides left the summit without a breakthrough but agreed to meet again.

Molcho and Erekat are expected to represent their respective sides again on Monday, where they will try to find terms for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas to resume talks on a two-state solution.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas cautioned that the Palestinians would take "new measures" if the newest talks failed by a PA-imposed deadline of Jan. 26. "These measures might be hard," Abbas added, giving no specific detail on whether such actions may involve the United Nations, where the Palestinians have been waging a unilateral campaign for statehood recognition.

The Palestinians have in the past year largely snubbed peace talks, demanding a halt to all Israeli construction in the West Bank while pushing for unilateral recognition of statehood from various United Nations bodies. Netanyahu has repeatedly said he will meet with Abbas immediately without preconditions.

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