Diplomatic efforts to find a solution to the Middle East conflict are bearing fruit with new talks between Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. The negotiations will take place in Jericho on Monday – their first meeting in Palestinian territory. Large gaps remain however between the two sides’ expectations. While the Palestinians are keen to discuss issues such as the final borders of a future Palestinian state, the status of Jerusalem and refugees, Israel is clearly reluctant to approach these issues at such meetings, with its foreign minister Tzipi Livni recently declaring “sometimes it is not wise to put the most sensitive issues first”.
The Israeli prime minister recently floated the idea of reaching a joint “declaration of principles” with the Palestinians, an idea endorsed by Abbas.