A senior Palestinian official said Tuesday Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were to meet that day for their second round of peace talks. The first round was held quietly last Wednesday in Jerusalem.
The official, who is close to the negotiations, refused to say where Tuesday’s talks were being held. It is believed the talks were to resume in Jericho, a West Bank city some 20 minutes from Jerusalem near the Jordanian border.
The Palestinian official spoke on condition of anonymity because both sides promised US Secretary of State John Kerry not to discuss details with the media.
The Palestinian official’s report may have contradicted statements made by chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat to Nazareth-based Radio Shams on Tuesday morning. Asked if talks were set to take place in Jericho on Tuesday, Erekat said no, but it was unclear if he meant the talks were delayed, or that the location would not be in Jericho. He did not elaborate.
Meanwhile, chief Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni declined to comment when asked by Israel Radio on Tuesday where and when the next round would take place. She said holding negotiations without media coverage was meant to build trust between the two sides.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiation teams began hashing out a peace deal last Wednesday in a meeting at an undisclosed Jerusalem location between Justice Minister Livni and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s aide Yitzhak Molcho on one side and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s advisers Saeb Erekat and Mohammed Shtayyeh on the other.
The sides met for nearly five hours, and the meeting was described as “serious” by sources close to the talks.
Tuesday’s meeting will be the third encounter since talks kicked off last month. The sides and the US, which is shepherding the negotiations, have vowed to maintain radio silence in the hopes of muzzling critics who could scuttle the negotiations.
“The talks resumed. no photo opp. no statements. Why? to allow the teams to work together, and not think about the media waiting outside,” Livni spokesperson Mia Bengel tweeted last Wednesday in a rare statement.