EU backs informal peace talks

Jan. 8, 2013 at 6:10 AM
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JERUSALEM, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- The European Union is backing informal talks between Israelis and Palestinians hoping to improve the atmosphere between the sides, an official said.

With peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians non-existent, the groups are hoping to formulate recommendations that may aid the sides in resuming talks, The Jerusalem Post said Tuesday.

The talks currently taking place between Israeli and Palestinian academics, public figures and former military and civil officials address some core issues, such as Jerusalem and security, the newspaper said. One unnamed participant in the talks described the informal dialogue as "Track II diplomacy."

Another unnamed official said the government is aware of the talks and may find some ideas raised by the groups useful in formal negotiations.

Udi Dekel, a general in the reserve army who was appointed by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to lead negotiations with the Palestinians after Annapolis meetings in 2007, is participating in some of the dialogues, the newspaper said.

Dekel's group is part of a research project involving Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians managed by the S.Daniel Abraham Center for Strategic Dialogue at Netanya Academic College under the auspices of the European Union's "Partnership for Peace" program. The aim of the program is to present the regional implications of the establishment of a Palestinian state.

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