Amid high tensions, Israel and Palestinians hold talks

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Seeking to break a 16-month deadlock, Israel and the Palestinians held their first high-level talks in months on Sunday, hours after police foiled what they said was an attempted car bombing in Jerusalem.
The incident created a tense backdrop for the evening talks by Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai and Yasser Arafat’s deputy Mahmoud Abbas.
None of the participants — who also included chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and Yitzhak Molcho, a senior aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — made statements as they headed into the negotiating session at a Tel Aviv hotel.
Beforehand, the Palestinians signaled their low expectations. Palestinian Cabinet minister Nabil Shaath said he thought the meeting had only a “very, very limited chance” of success.
In Jerusalem, Netanyahu said Israel was coming to the talks with “an open mind and a desire to achieve an agreement.”
Earlier in the day, Netanyahu separately told his Cabinet and visiting Jordanian Foreign Minister Jawad Anani that he was determined to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, and soon.
The talks were being held at the urging of the United States, which called on Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate directly to resolve differences over a U.S. initiative calling for Israel to withdraw from another 13 percent of the West Bank.
Israel has so far balked, citing security concerns — concerns that Netanyahu said were underscored by Sunday’s attempted attack in the center of Jerusalem.