Jerusalem: Israel and the Palestinians on Thursday resumed their first direct peace talks under total secrecy here after a three-year of hiatus, as the Jewish nation freed 26 Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture.
Few details have been released about the location, timing or agenda of the US-brokered talks as Israel released a brief video showing the chief negotiators - Yitzhak Molcho and Tzipi Livni of Israel and Saeb Erekat of the Palestinians - shaking hands in an undisclosed location.
"The talks resumed," Justice Minister Livni`s spokesperson Mia Bengel wrote on Twitter at around 7 pm.
"No photo opp. No statements. Why? To allow the teams to work together, and not think about the media waiting outside", she added.
US special envoy Martin Indyk did not initially take part in the discussions. He, however, met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today.
The next round of talks is expected to be held next week in the West Bank, also under total media blackout.
There were extremely low expectations on both the sides over the outcome of the fragile peace talks as Palestinian fears that Israeli announcements of settlement plans could torpedo the talks.
As per US Secretary of State John Kerry`s announcement last month, the negotiations between the two sides will be held under American mediation.
Israel today released 26 Palestinian prisoners with "blood on their hands" after decades of incarceration in prisons as a goodwill gesture to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to bolster his position among Palestinians.
But the move coming in the wake of an Israeli announcement regarding strengthening of Jewish settlements failed to impress the common Palestinians.
A close aide to Abbas, Yasser Abed Rabbo warned Israel`s attempts to build new housing units could lead to a quick collapse of peace talks.
"The talks might collapse any time because of the Israeli practices," Rabbo, an adviser to Abbas told Voice of Palestine radio today.