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Jordan to host meeting of Israelis and Palestinians

Israeli and Palestinian envoys will meet in Amman, Jordan, on Tuesday to resume direct talks on the Middle East peace process stalled for more than a year.

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Jordanian anti-riot police surround Islamic Action Front supporters during a protest in Amman on December 30, 2011. (KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli and Palestinian envoys will meet in Amman, Jordan, on Tuesday to resume direct talks on the Middle East peace process after more than a year.

Negotiations stalled in late 2010 after Israel refused to freeze Jewish settlement building in the West Bank, according to the BBC

Amman announced Sunday that it would host two meetings on Tuesday: one with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators and the Quartet of Middle East mediators — the US, EU, UN and Russia; and the other between the Israeli and Palestinian representatives.

The Quartet has been pressing the Israelis and the Palestinians to resume direct negotiations over a two-state solution.

"Jordan's efforts are based on the belief that the two-state solution, which leads to the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian national state, is a top Jordanian interest," a spokesman for the Jordanian Foreign Ministry said, CNN reported, citing Jordan's state-run Petra news agency

In a statement issued by the State Department, cited by Xinhua, US State Secretary Hillary Clinton said

"We welcome and support this positive development. I applaud the efforts of the King and Foreign Minister Judeh [of Jordan] to bring the parties together and encourage them to approach these meetings constructively.

"I have been in close contact with Foreign Minister Judeh and with [US] Special Envoy [for Middle East Peace] David Hale."

Yoaz Hendel, chief media adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, thanked Jordanian officials in a statement Sunday "for their efforts to bring the two sides together under the outline of international quartet."

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat also reportedly expressed his appreciation to Jordan's King Abdullah.

However, officials from both sides quoted by Reuters played down the prospect of any imminent resumption in peace talks.

"This is not a resumption of negotiations," Reuters quoted Wasl Abu Yossef, a senior figure in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's PLO executive reportedly said. 

In a statement, Israel reportedly said its envoy Yitzhak Molcho would "take part in the Quartet meeting" but did not make any reference to meeting the Palestinians.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/israel-and-palestine/120102/israel-palestinians-jordan-peace-talks