(Reuters) – The Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers will meet later this month, officials said on Wednesday, but the rare talks may only sharpen differences that have brought peace negotiations to a standstill.
The Palestinians said they will present Benjamin Netanyahu with a letter spelling out Israel’s failure to implement a 2003 “road map” that includes a halt to settlement activity as a step towards achieving a final peace agreement.
“The real test in front of Netanyahu is to stop the settlements, after which he will find that we are ready for negotiations,” Mohammed Shtayyeh, a member of the Palestinian negotiating team, told Reuters.
“These aren’t conditions, but what we want him to say is that he’s ready to end the occupation,” he said.
An Israeli government official said Netanyahu would reiterate, at the meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, his call for peace talks to get under way without any terms for their resumption.
U.S.-hosted peace negotiations froze in late 2010 after Netanyahu rejected Palestinian demands that he extend the 10-month partial construction freeze he had imposed at Washington’s behest to coax them into talks.
The official said Netanyahu would also repeat his demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state in any peace agreement — something they oppose.
Fayyad will become the highest-level Palestinian official to have met Netanyahu since the negotiations broke off.
But the upcoming talks, which the officials on both sides said would be held after Jewish holiday of Passover that ends on April 14, will not be attended by the highest-ranking Palestinian leader in the West Bank, President Mahmoud Abbas.
Reuters has the full article