JERUSALEM (May. 13)
Israeli and Palestinian officials have yielded to American urging and agreed to meet this week to discuss disagreements that led to the current impasse in their negotiations.
U.S. Middle East envoy Dennis Ross, now in the second week of a shuttle visit to the region, had been pressing for such a meeting to help get the peace process back on track.
Palestinian officials said they did not expect any great breakthrough in the talks, which were due to be held this week at the Herzliya home of the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk.
News of the meeting emerged as U.S. State Department officials confirmed Tuesday that Foreign Minister David Levy was expected to travel later this week to Washington for talks with American officials.
Israeli-Palestinian talks and security cooperation have been frozen since mid- March, when Israel began constructing a new Jewish neighborhood in southeastern Jerusalem and a Palestinian suicide bomber attacked a Tel Aviv cafe.
The Palestinians have demanded a halt to Israeli settlement activity as a condition for returning to the negotiations.
They also said they would demand an end to Israeli land confiscation and demolitions of Palestinian buildings in the territories.
During a weekend meeting with Ross, Arafat presented the envoy with a list of 1,300 notices of intended demolitions sent by Israel to West Bank Palestinians.
For its part, Israel has demanded that Palestinian security officials resume sharing intelligence with their Israeli counterparts as a condition for resuming the negotiations.
The Israel Defense Force intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Moshe Ya’alon, said Tuesday that there were still no signs of renewed security cooperation.
He said that while there are no concrete warnings of terrorist attacks against Israel, Islamic militant organizations are aware that the atmosphere in the territories is conducive to carrying out attacks.
Meanwhile, Israel continued to demand that the Palestinians fulfill their obligation under the terms of the September 1995 Interim Agreement to respond to Israeli requests to extradite suspected Palestinian terrorists currently in the autonomous areas.
A statement issued by the Government Press Office on Tuesday said that Israel had asked the Palestinian Authority to hand over 11 suspected terrorists, in addition to 20 others it had already requested.
The office said that the Palestinian Authority had only responded to two requests, which it had rejected.
The list included the names of 12 Palestinians who are serving in, or about to be recruited into, the Palestinian police force.