After a long stalemate, Jordan is spearheading a new effort to revive the Middle East peace process.
Israeli and Palestinian chief negotiators will meet for the first time in more than a year Tuesday in Jordan. While it is not a formal negotiating session, officials will seek a formula for resuming peace talks that have been deadlocked over Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank.
Negotiators will meet with teams from the Quartet of Middle East mediators - the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia. The Quartet has given Israel and the Palestinian Authority until January 26th to submit proposals on territory and security that would clear the way for the resumption of talks.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says time is running out. Mr. Abbas warned that if the January target date is missed, the Quartet will have “failed” and the Palestinians “will act accordingly." He said that while he opposes violence, there are growing calls among Palestinians for a third uprising against Israel.
The key sticking point remains: Palestinians say they will not return to the negotiating table until Israel halts all settlement construction, but the Israeli government has refused.
Israeli Cabinet Minister Yuval Steinitz says Israel has always supported the resumption of peace talks, but without preconditions.
Both sides have welcomed the meeting in Jordan, saying they are prepared to give peace a chance. But the gaps remain wide and expectations for a breakthrough are low.