Israel is working on a new incentives package to entice the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table, an Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday night.

Palestinians have refused to hold direct negotiations with Israel until it halts West Bank settlement construction and Jewish building in east Jerusalem.

Israel has refused to cede to that request and has instead insisted that talks must be held without preconditions.

Direct high-level formal negotiations were last held in September 2010.

But Israel has continued to work behind the scenes to find an alternative formula that would pave the way for the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.

There have been a number of high-level international leaders who have meet separately with both Netanyahu and Abbas in the last few weeks.

In late June, Russian President Vladimir Putin meet with both leaders.

Last week, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso made separate visits to Netanyahu and Abbas.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Abbas in Paris earlier this month and is scheduled to meet with Netanyahu on Monday during her visit to Israel. Russia, the EU, the US and the UN are members of the Quartet, which has been heavily involved in reviving the peace talks.

“Obviously, we want to encourage the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table,” the official said.

The official said that Israel was concerned that the Palestinians plan to make another bid for unilateral statehood at the United Nations this coming September. It is also upset by reports that Abbas plans to attend a conference of non-aligned countries in Tehran at the end of next month.

“We do not want to see the Palestinians return to a unilateral process,” said the official, who added that the Palestinians had signed a commitment to resolve all outstanding disputes through peaceful negotiations.

“The Palestinians have to decide if they are on the side of pragmatism and reconciliation and peace or are they with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas,” the official said.

“The Palestinian leadership cozying up to the Iranians would be a very negative development.”