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Israelis, Palestinians Attempt to Salvage Peace Effort

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are set to meet in Jordan for talks aimed at restarting the stalled peace process.

Both sides say they are ready to re-open a dialogue, but optimism is low and their positions on the settlement issue remain unchanged. The Palestinians are demanding that Israel halt all construction, and Israel has refused.

Gershon Baskin, co-director of the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information in Jerusalem, says that after 16 months of not talking, having representatives from the two sides in the same room is a positive development.

"While expectations are very low, and it seems very unlikely that there actually will be concrete results today, the fact that they are beginning something leaves a little crack in the door for some hope," Baskin said.

The meeting at the Jordanian Foreign Ministry will bring together Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, his Israeli counterpart Yitzhak Molcho, and representatives of the Quartet of Middle East mediators.

The quartet - the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia - has given Israel and the Palestinian Authority until January 26 to submit proposals on territory and security that would clear the way for the resumption of talks.

Palestinians officials say that without a breakthrough on negotiations, they will turn to alternative measures.