Though both the Palestinians and Israelis seem to be hedging considerable at this point, reports suggest that direct Mideast peace talks are nearing, and that an announcement could be made as soon as this week.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is said to be planning to hold a meeting with the PLO before deciding on the direct talks, while the Israeli government keeps making pronouncements that any comments that seem like preconditions would make the talks unacceptable.
Israel has been pushing for the direct talks for months, despite the lack of even minor progress from the indirect peace talks being brokered by the US. The Obama Administration has backed the idea and put considerable pressure on the Palestinians to accept the offer.
But rumors abound about exactly where these peace talks will go, including a rumor last week that Israel was planning to offer 90% of the West Bank as a future Palestinian state. Israeli officials denied the reports.
Any peace talks will have to contend with considerable distrust from both sides, and influential factions within both governments that oppose peace deals even on general principle. Still the talks could hold a rare glimmer of hope in the endless conflict in the region.
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