(JTA) — Direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority could begin as soon as next week.
Silvan Shalom, Israel’s minister for regional cooperation, said at a news conference that direct negotiations between Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Israeli envoy Isaac Molcho and Palestinian Authority envoy Saeb Erekat could begin on July 30, pending a discussion of the talks in Israel’s Sunday Cabinet meeting. The Cabinet also will discuss a proposed law that would require a referendum on any final-status deal with the Palestinians.
“We hope that the talks between Israel and the Palestinians in Washington will begin next week, hopefully Tuesday,” Shalom said, according to Ynet News. “We want and are interested in moving forward in the negotiations and meanwhile seeing an improvement in the Palestinian economy.”
Shalom, who spoke with Erekat, said he expects the Palestinian Authority to move forward with negotiations. Some reports in recent days have said that P.A. officials said they had not agreed to enter final-status talks.
In a speech at an Israeli Defense Forces recruitment center, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, according to Ynet, that ”It takes two to tango, but in the Middle East it takes three” — presumably referring to American mediation of the talks.