Israelis And Palestinians Set For Talks In Jordan

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are due to hold their first meeting in more than a year on Tuesday.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are due to hold their first meeting in more than a year on Tuesday.

Palestinian representative Saeb Erekat has played down hopes for the talksIsraeli envoy Yitzhak Molcho and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat will meet in the Jordanian capital Amman alongside international mediators.

But officials from both sides have played down the prospect of any imminent resumption in peace talks.

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

Both Israeli and Palestinian officials have done nothing to raise expectations ahead of the meeting, reports the BBC's Kevin Connolly in Jerusalem.

The priority for both sides will be to avoid blame if the process cannot be restarted, he adds.

'Politically dangerous'

"The Jordanian efforts are the last-minute efforts to salvage the situation," Mr Erekat told reporters at a news conference in Ramallah ahead of the talks.

"We hope that the Israeli government would reciprocate the Jordanian efforts by announcing cessation of settlement activities and the acceptance of the concept of the two-state solution," he told AP.

Jordan is hosting the talks as part of efforts to resume direct peace negotiations between the two sides.

The Israelis and Palestinians will meet bilaterally as well as with the Quartet of Middle East mediators - the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

The Quartet had said talks between the two sides must resume before the end of January.

Representatives of Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, have condemned the meeting.

"This meeting will continue the policy of failure... We in the Hamas movement demand that the Palestinian Authority stop and boycott all these kinds of meeting which are politically dangerous," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters.

Direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians stalled in September 2010. The Palestinians walked out in protest at the building of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Almost 500,000 Jews live in settlements on occupied territory. The settlements are illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.