The political chess game that is Arab-Israeli relations is closer to getting underway again.
The White House says both sides have agreed to indirect peace talks brokered by US special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell.
“I’ve just come now from a meeting with Senator Mitchell and we are trying to advance, and I believe we will succeed in advancing, the diplomatic process but this is not a game, it’s the real thing, and it depends on providing real security,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
US Vice-President Joe Biden has arrived in Tel Aviv and expectations are high that he will announce a date for a formal start for the so-called proximity talks.
The two sides will not be in the same room together for the preliminary talks. Instead, George Mitchell will shuttle between the two.
“If the price that we pay for saying yes to Mitchell will be more settlements and more incursions and more dictates, then there is a big question mark over the possibility of continuing. We condemn this Israeli action and we call on the US to stop such Israeli actions to give peace a chance,” said chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat.
The construction of 112 new homes in the occupied West Bank, which Israel says is not in breach of a partial freeze, was announced last year.