Palestinians visit Israel's parliament for the first time ever

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Palestinian officials visited Israel's parliament for the first time ever on Wednesday to meet their Israeli counterparts, as the two sides moved toward peace negotiations.

The Knesset raised the Palestinian flag during a meeting among MPs, officials and businessmen from both sides, an AFP correspondent said.

"The meeting, which was attended by us on behalf of president Mahmud Abbas, was positive," said the head of the Palestinian delegation and member Abbas's Fatah party Mohammed al-Madani.

"We talked about how to make the peace process succeed, and about the Arab initiative and the dangers of the process collapsing," he told AFP.

The meeting took place between current and former Israeli MPs, including members of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party and secular centrist Yesh Atid, which is in the ruling coalition.

Israeli Labour Party member Hilik Bar said "this meeting is to support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Abbas, and the negotiators in Washington."

Negotiators from both sides met for the first time in three years in Washington on Monday, embarking on talks they hope will lead to an agreement within nine months.