An Israeli deputy prime minister is casting doubt on indirect peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, as a U.S. envoy begins negotiations with Israel Wednesday.
The Jerusalem Post quotes Dan Meridor as saying indirect negotiations will not work because Palestinians are trying to avoid making "tough decisions" by attempting to convince U.S. negotiators to accept their position.
He also says the parties should "go quickly to direct talks," where both Israel and the Palestinians will be forced to make the tough decisions.
The newspaper published his comments ahead of U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell's meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday.
The two will hold a series of meetings in Jerusalem before Mitchell travels to Ramallah Friday for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Meanwhile, Mr. Abbas says he will give the talks four months to make progress. He says after that, he will consult with the Arab League concerning the next step.
He commented Wednesday after meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman.
Mr. Abbas has been meeting with officials in the region in an effort to win support for Palestinians in the peace process. On Tuesday, he met with officials in Saudi Arabia.
The Palestinians say direct talks will not happen until Israel stops building in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. They say they have received assurances from the United States that all core issues will be discussed this week.
Israel and the Palestinians broke off negotiations more than a year ago.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP.