A 14-month deadlock between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on peace negotiations is apparently over.
George Mitchell, the U.S. envoy to the region, says Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to begin indirect talks brokered by the United States. It represents the first substantive diplomatic achievement by the Obama administration in the Mideast.
But, according to the Associated Press, Israel angered Palestinians as the agreement was being announced today by authorizing new apartment construction at a settlement in the West Bank. Mitchell tried to head off any controversy that might upset the agreement.
"We also again encourage the parties, and all concerned, to refrain from any statements or actions which may inflame tensions or prejudice the outcome of these talks," said Mitchell.
Vice President Joe Biden arrived in the region for a five-day visit aimed at jumpstarting those negotiations.