Plans in Work to Restart Peace Talks


Jerusalem, June 15 —High-level meetings between Israeli and Palestinian leaders are being planned to jump-start the moribund peace process.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz isexpected to meet sometime next week in Jordan with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. Meanwhile, arrangements are underway for a meeting between the PA leader and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, although no dates have been announced.

“Put aside the dispatches, put aside the letters, enough chatter and preconditions – come and talk peace! Come now,” Mofaz urged Thursday. “The Palestinians must know that our hand is extended to peace with those who are willing and able to decide. We will not have a better opportunity than this one.”

Palestinian Authority negotiators said earlier this week that they were interested in meeting with Netanyahu’s coalition partners, prompting the invitation by Mofaz.

Mofaz is also planning to travel to Washington early in the week to speak at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Tuesday.

But before Abbas will agree to a meeting with Netanyahu, Israel will have to meet certain preconditions, said PLO Secretary- General Yasser Abed Rabbo, who has yet to specify the caveats. Netanyahu has said time and again that he is ready to meet with the Palestinians any time, any place, without prerequisites.

Said Rabbo, “Contacts are continuing to ease tensions between the two sides and prepare for the resumption of the peace process.”

Middle East envoy, David Hale is headed to the region soon to assist in restarting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Talks have been stalled for almost two years, when the Palestinians last walked out of negotiations between the two sides.

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