United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon kicked off a series of meetings Wednesday with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, beginning in Jerusalem with President Shimon Peres. Ban told Peres that Israel must make some confidence-building gestures toward the Palestinians, in order to carry on with the direct talks between the sides in Jordan.
According to senior Israeli officials, Ban told Peres that Israel should take steps to assist the Palestinians and illustrate that the Palestinian state is already being built on the ground. Later on Wednesday, Ban is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and is expected to make the same calls for Israeli gestures.
Ban is one of several foreign leaders who have recently called on Netanyahu to make gestures toward the Palestinians in order to avoid a breakdown in the Amman talks. Netanyahu has said is willing to make such gestures, but only if he is given guarantees that the Palestinians will not walk away from the negotiating table a few weeks later.