Israel officially requests to extend exploratory talks with Palestinians
Israel has officially requested to extend exploratory talks with Palestinians who strongly rejected the request, a Palestinian official said Sunday, Xinhua reported.
Saeb Erekat, who leads the Palestinian delegation in the talks, told his Israeli counterpart that the meetings will end by Jan. 26, in compliance with an ultimatum set by the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers, the official told Xinhua, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Three meetings have been held since the beginning of this month in Amman as the Quartet, which comprises the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, try to get stalled peace talks on track after more than a year of stillness.
Israel is hopeful to keep the talks going on until spring and Yitzhak Molcho, the Israeli representative, requested a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the official added. Erekat rejected the request and said there will be no high-profile meetings before Israel stops settlement building and committed itself to the two- state solution.
The meetings discuss issues related to borders and security, as the Quartet believes that agreeing on those two issues will smoothly allow a broader agreement to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
But Israel has not offered anything allowing the talks to be extended, the official said. "We think Amman's meetings route a useless, endless circle."