Lara Rozen is reporting that there has been good progress made toward getting the two sides together in face to face talks:
An announcement that Israelis and Palestinians have agreed to go into direct peace talks is expected in the coming days, U.S. officials, Mideast watchers and European diplomats said Monday.
"We are close, we are optimistic," a U.S. official said. "There's still work to do, details remain."
One western diplomat said the announcement was expected Monday, adding that both parties are essentially agreeing to go into direct talks based on assurances they have received from the United States.
U.S. officials said they were still focused on getting both parties to agree, and would not say where talks, expected to start by Sept. 1, might be held.
Middle East watchers believed talks would be announced this week despite the reported rejection Sunday by the Israeli cabinet of a statement from the so-called Middle East Quartet -- comprised of the U.S., Russia, United Nations and European Union - as the basis for direct talks. The Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported that the cabinet said the Quartet statement on a two-state solution included unacceptable preconditions concerning how much land Israel would be expected to cede to a future Palestinian state.
Not that it will do any good, but Netanyahu has given the US private assurances that if the Palestinians agree to direct talks by the end of the month, Israel will extend its moratorium on settlement building in the West Bank.
Of course, missing from these direct talks will be the true bosses of the Palestinian cause. Hamas will not sit down with the Israelis now, next month, or probably ever. How Israel can deal with the Palestinians while the unreconstructed genocidal maniacs in Hamas won't even give the Israelis the time of day is one more indication of the weird disconnect from reality present in our state department and the White House.