For the first time in 18 months Israel and the Palestinians are talking to each other, even if the US’s envoy George Mitchell will be bearing the words between Ramallah and Tel Aviv.
He has begun the indirect talks with a meeting with the Palestinian’s President Mahmoud Abbas, after which he will return home.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after Sunday’s cabinet meeting that only direct talks could bring peace. He has authorised the start of the indirect round despite low public expectations of progress.
“Proximity talks must produce direct talks soon. Peace cannot be brought from a distance, or by remote control. What’s more, we are the Palestinians’ neighbours, and they are our neighbours,” he said.
Mitchell returns to the region in 10 days time. In between he will deliver a diplomacy boost to Washington, and a report to his boss, President Barack Obama, who may well give Mitchell some ideas of his own to take back with him.