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Israeli Leaders Prepare to Start Indirect Talks

JERUSALEM The prime minister of Israel , Benjamin Netanyahu, met on Monday with Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, in the Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheik, and the Obama administration’s envoy arrived in the region amid final preparations for the start of indirect Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The talks, expected in coming days, will be the first to take place in more than a year. But the atmosphere in the region was hardly enthusiastic, with Israeli officials expressing skepticism about the prospects of a breakthrough and Palestinian officials warning Israel against taking any steps that could torpedo the talks.
The so-called proximity talks, to be brokered by the American envoy, George J. Mitchell, were delayed in March after the Israeli government announced plans for new Jewish housing in contested East Jerusalem. The top leaders on both sides have been taking care to avoid statements that could be deemed provocative; nevertheless, a certain dissonance remains evident.

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, told Army Radio that Israel must refrain from unilateral steps over the next four months, like building new settlements or evicting Palestinians from their homes.
Adding to the sense of mutual distrust, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, said Monday that there was “an unprecedented wave of incitement” coming out of the Palestinian Authority, including the Palestinian boycott of some Israeli-produced goods, which he said violated a 1994 economic agreement.
The boycott, which focuses on goods produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, is part of a new Palestinian effort at nonviolent resistance. The Palestinian Authority’s minister of economy, Hassan Abu Libdeh, wrote in the popular Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot on Monday that the campaign was not intended to be anti-Israeli, but was in part aimed at helping Palestinian consumers to distinguish between “products that come from the illegal settlements and those legal Israeli products that are imported in accordance with the economic agreement” in 1994.
Refusing to make such a distinction, Mr. Ayalon said that images of the Palestinian Authority prime minister,Salam Fayyad, and others “happily” burning Israeli products reminded him of darker periods in Jewish history, mentioning Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass. During that episode in 1938, Nazis attacked Jews and burned synagogues across Germany and Austria in what many regard as the start of the Holocaust.
“Before the start of the talks,” Mr. Ayalon said, “the Palestinian Authority must decide if it is a partner for true peace and stop the ongoing incitement and boycotts against Israel.”
Mr. Ayalon was speaking at a news conference held by Israel’s Foreign Ministry to mark a report documenting a hundred cases of places or events named for people held responsible for deadly acts of terrorism against Israelis. The report was released by Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli group that monitors the Palestinian news media and which has also sponsored a $100,000 television advertisement campaign on Washington television channels highlighting its findings.
About a quarter of the cases, all drawn from Palestinian news reports, were from 2010; those honored included Dalal Mughrabi, a young woman who led a 1978 attack in which 37 Israeli civilians and an American photographer were killed; and a Hamas bomb maker, Yahya Ayyash.