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Ancient City Of Jericho To Host Peace Talks

posted 21 Aug 2013, 04:34 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 21 Aug 2013, 04:35 ]

As well as Jerusalem, the ancient West Bank city of Jericho has been chosen as the other location to host further rounds of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

JERICHOWEST BANK (AUGUST 20, 2013) (REUTERS) -  Peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resumed this week in Jerusalem, while security discussions were held in the West Bank city of Jericho.

Police chiefs from Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan held a conference at Jericho'sIntercontinental Hotel, to discuss cooperation in battling crime, preventing traffic accidents and collecting forensic evidence.

The city has been chosen, along with Jerusalem, to host Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

Compared to other West Bank towns, Jericho, which dates back to biblical times, is relatively small and free of violence.

Israel pulled out of Jericho and handed it back to the Palestinians in 1995, as part of a follow-up treaty to the Oslo peace accords.

In better days, a casino at the Intercontinental Hotel was a major tourist attraction, and was also frequented by Israelis. But it has been closed for over a decade amid a deteriorating security situation.

Despite the resumption of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, many in Jericho are sceptical that they will be successful, particularly after Israeli announced plans to build new settlements.

"God willing, we hope that there will be something new, but as you can see, as long as they are building settlements and suffocating the people, it is difficult to achieve anything. But God willing, we hope that God will make these negotiations a success and bring success to our leaders so they can achieve something for us," said Jamal Tubeh, a local resident.

In Jericho's main square, fruit and nut sellers depend on large numbers of visitors for their livelihoods.

Stall-holder Mahmoud Meki said the Palestinians needed to take a different approach if they wanted to achieve anything in the talks.

"What I would like to say is that the nature of the occupation and the nature of the settlements is obvious. If we want to negotiate, we should do so form a position of power. As the late leader, rest his soul, Gamal Abdel Nasser said, we should remember as we negotiate: 'What was taken by force can only be retrieved by force'," he said.

Israel has rejected criticism of its settlement policy, saying the newly announced homes would be erected in enclaves it intends to keep in any future peace deal. Most countries view all settlementsIsrael has built on occupied land as illegal.

No details were given after last week's peace talks, which were widely believed to have focused on setting an agenda for discussing core issues such as borders, security and the future of settlements, and Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees.

Follow-up meetings are expected every few weeks, in pursuit of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's goal of clinching a peace accord in nine months.