US Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States was evaluating whether to continue its role in Middle East peace talks after both Israeli and Palestinian sides had taken steps that were not helpful to the negotiations.
Speaking during a visit to Morocco, Kerry said it was "reality check time" and there was a limit to the time the United States could spend on the peace process if the parties themselves were unwilling to take constructive measures.
"This is not an open-ended effort, it never has been. It is reality check time, and we intend to evaluate precisely what the next steps will be," Kerry said.
The US sponsored peace talks came to a halt earlier this week as both Israel and the Palestinians took actions that angered the other side. First, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas applied to join 15 international organizations
and treaties, breaking a previous agreement.
Next, Israel cancelled a planned fourth prisoner release
. Following that decision, the Palestinian Authority set a new list of demands to be met in order to continue the peace talks.
Two of the new conditions on the list include Israeli recognition of the pre-1967 lines as the future borders of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital and the release of 1,200 more Palestinian prisoners, the officials said.
They are also demanding that Israel release three senior terrorists: Marwan Barghouti, Ahmed Sa’adat and Fuad Shobaki.
The conditions also include a complete cessation of settlement construction, the imposition of PA sovereignty over Area C in the West Bank, a halt to Israeli military operations in PA-controlled territories, and “reunion” permits for some 15,000 Palestinians.
Other conditions include reopening the Gaza border crossings, lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip, and permitting the return of Palestinian terrorists who were deported to the Gaza Strip and Europe after they sought shelter from the IDF in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 2002.
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