Talks opened today between high-level Israeli and Palestinian negotiators as leaders on both sides faced intensifying criticism from within their own camps. Israeli PM Ehud Olmert was threatened with the withdrawal of two political parties from his governing coalition if sensitive subjects such as a divided Jerusalem are broached, and Hamas called on Mahmoud Abbas to "stop giving away Palestinian blood and rights for free."
Israel's foreign minister and the chief Palestinian negotiator met for 2 hours in Jerusalem, the AP reports. Tasked with addressing what a spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry called "core issues," they addressed such issues as borders of a Palestinian state, Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and Palestinian refugees. The meetings come after President Bush visited the region last week in an attempt to jumpstart negotiations.