Palestinians downplay idea to resume indirect talks with Israel
A Palestinian negotiator on Thursday downplayed Israeli prime minister's claim that Mideast peace talks could resume within weeks. Benjamin Netanyahu suggested on Wednesday that negotiations would be indirect at first. U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell has proposed shuttling between the two sides to forge a deal.
But, according to the AP, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said such shuttle diplomacy makes no sense without clear parameters and an Israeli settlement freeze. According to Erekat, he will meet a U.S. diplomat on Thursday to hear more about the Mitchell proposal. However, he stressed Netanyahu is not offering anything new.
Despite Erekat's remarks, an Israeli cabinet minister insisted on Thursday Israel and the Palestinians may resume indirect peace deliberations soon. According to Reuters, cabinet minister Gilad Erdan said: "Sometimes it takes more than two to tango. And sometimes you need a third party to bring the positions closer." Asked on Israel's Public Radio if the resumption of negotiations would be in the format of proximity talks through U.S. mediation, Erdan said: "Yes, indeed."