The Palestinian Liberation Organization has approved indirect talks with Israel, opening the door for the first peace negotiations in a year and a half. One may remember the “proximity talks” that fizzled in March when Israel unexpectedly announced an expansion of illegal settlement plans in East Jerusalem. –JCL


The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Saturday approved indirect talks with Israel, clearing the way for the first negotiations in 18 months and giving a boost to U.S. peace diplomacy.

U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell will conduct the talks by shuttling between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian and Israeli officials said. “This is the appropriate form that can make these negotiations real and serious,” said Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior PLO official, after the body approved four months of indirect talks.

The start of the talks, to which Israel has already agreed in principle, may be announced later on Saturday, he said. Mitchell met with Abbas at the Palestinian leader’s headquarters in Ramallah after the PLO decision was announced.

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