In a sign that Israel may be trying to restart talks with the Palestinian Authority, Minister Silvan Shalom, who was appointed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to be in charge of peace talks, met last week in Jordan with the PA’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat.
In recent months, since the formation of the new Israeli government, several meetings between Israeli and Palestinian representatives have been held, but the meeting between Shalom and Erekat was the highest-level meeting between the sides in recent years.
Shalom recently called for the resumption of peace talks, but also noted that “it takes two to tango” and that the PA needs to also show willingness to resume talks.
“We need to resume the negotiations with the Palestinians, even though we don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said at a conference of the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, adding that Israel has publicly announced that it wants to resume the negotiations immediately but that "desire from both sides" is required to do so.
In recent months there has been renewed pressure on both Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to resume talks based on the “two-state solution”.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently urged Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to translate into action his commitment to a two-state solution.
Those comments came in the wake of comments by Netanyahu during the recent election campaign in Israel, when the Prime Minister declared in a series of interviews he would do everything in his power to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, angering Western leaders.
He appeared to backtrack after the election, explaining in an interview that he wants “a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution" but Western leaders have continued to express skepticism that Netanyahu is being sincere.
Last week the European Union said it will explore setting up a new international format to breathe life back into the stalled peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
France has also sought to bring the sides back to the negotiating table, saying recently it was working on a possible resolution at the UN that would set negotiating parameters and establish a time period, possibly 18 months, to complete talks.