Israel-PLO Talks End in Amman, Jordan Mulls Sanctions?

January 25, 2012  

The final “exploratory” meeting between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization ended Wednesday in Amman with no progress, official said. PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat and Israeli attorney Yitzchak Mocho made little headway in their fifth meeting, the last before the January 26 deadline set by the Quartet of peacekeeping nations to break the impasse and relaunch direct talks for a final status agreement between the two sides. 

“Israel has not advanced one step towards resuming negotiations,” a PLO representative told the AFP news agency.

Nevertheless, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh characterized the talks as “serious” despite the disagreements on both sides. “The coming days will be devoted to evaluating the results [of the talks] with the relevant parties in consultation with the Quartet and the Arab Committee for Peace,” he told Jordan’s official Petra news agency.

Earlier in the day, a report in the London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper claimed King Abdullah II was considering a possible reduction in ties with Israel if the Jewish State did not “make significant concessions which allow the Palestinian leadership to justify their return to the negotiating table.”

The veiled threat was not confirmed by any other publication, however — nor was it mentioned later in the day.

Some lawmakers in Israel are also frustrated with the lack of progress and the PA’s unending insistence on preconditions for talks.

MK Aryeh Eldad warned U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro on Wednesday at a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that America should look at the fact that the “exploratory” meetings are going nowhere. Eldad suggested that Shapiro instead think about what might happen if the Hashemite Kingdom were to come to an end, pointing out that the “two-state solution” west of the Jordan River is at a “dead end.”

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced he will arrive in the region next week in effort to further “encourage” Israel and the PLO to resume the talks. Ban told reporters he will visit Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority in hopes of creating “a positive atmosphere for moving forward.”

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who arrived in the region earlier this week, and who has been in Amman to try to move the process forward, has already insisted that informal talks continue despite the obvious lack of progress and the apparent — or at least, publicly stated unwillingness of the PLO side to do so.

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