US envoy Martin Indyk is due to meet with Israelis and Palestinian negotiating teams on Sunday as part of an intense effort to salvage the disintegrating peace talks.

In an effort to rescue the situation, Indyk dramatically increased his efforts, holding a meeting on Wednesday with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. He met with Thursday with Livni and on Friday with Erekat. US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was in Israel at the beginning of the week, spoke on the phone on Thursday night with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He has since spoken again with Netanyahu.

The PA on Saturday criticized Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s statements that the Palestinians need to give something in return for the release of the final batch of Palestinian prisoners.

Nabil Abu Rudaineh, Abbas’s spokesman, said the Palestinians reject Livni’s statements.

“As head of the Israeli negotiating team, Livni knows that the Israeli- Palestinian-American agreement envisaged the release of the prisoners in return for not going to international organizations for nine months,” Abu Rudaineh said.

On Thursday night Abbas refused a request by Kerry to suspend the 15 applications. Abbas told Kerry he was committed to the peace talks but that he had no choice but to turn to the international community after Israel violated its agreement to release a final batch of 26 prisoners on March 29.

Abu Rudaineh held the Israeli government responsible for the current crisis in the peace talks for pursuing settlement construction and refusing to release prisoners.

Livni knows that Abbas remains committed to “real and serious negotiations that would lead to a just and comprehensive peace resulting in the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital,” Abu Rudaineh added.

The spokesman said that the US and the international community “appreciate President Abbas’s position and consider him a true and serious peace partner.”

Kerry voiced pessimism while visiting Morocco on Friday when he said that the US would have to evaluate its future involvement in the process.

“There are limits to the amount of time and effort that the United States can spend if the parties themselves are unwilling to take constructive steps in order to be able to move forward,” Kerry said. “We intend to evaluate. Both parties say they want to continue. Neither party has said that they’ve called it off. But we’re not going to sit there indefinitely.

This is not an open-ended effort, never has been.

“The president said that from the beginning and I’ve said that many times, including in the last few days. So it’s reality check time,” Kerry said.

He added that the Arab League would be meeting in the next few days to discuss the latest events in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

Kerry, who has since returned to the US, is expected to meet with President Barack Obama to discuss America’s future involvement in the talks.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest acknowledged that Obama shared Kerry’s frustration over “unhelpful” actions by both sides.

Israeli and Palestinian politicians over the weekend blamed each other for the crisis in the negotiations. Direct bilateral talks toward a comprehensive final-status agreement were scheduled to end on April 29.

Direct talks turned into proximity talks, with the US going between the parties with the more modest aim of creating a framework to guide future negotiations. As the process deteriorated, an effort was made to keep the negotiations going for another nine months by creating a comprehensive package of incentives for both sides.

The deal would have had Washington free Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard and Israel would have freed 400 Palestinian prisoners “without blood on their hands.”

Palestinians would commit not to apply to international organizations and Israel would curb Jewish construction beyond the Green Line.

Israel then chose to delay a scheduled March 29 release of 26 Palestinian prisoners until the deal was concluded, explaining that it would only free them once it was assured the talks would continue.

When the direct negotiations began at the end of July, Israel had promised to free 104 Palestinian prisoners responsible for killing Israelis. The March 29 release was to be the last of four releases to occur during the course of the talks.

“This is a real crisis,” Tzipi Livni told Channel 2 on Saturday night as she explained that the issue was not the core principles of a peace agreement, but the process.

She spoke just days after the Palestinians crossed an Israeli red line by seeking to ratify 15 international treaties and conventions. Israel, in response, said it did not plan to release 26 Palestinians prisoners as promised.

Livni told Channel 2 on Saturday night that it was always understood that this last release would occur only in the context of continued talks.

“It was clear we could not release those prisoners, particularly if it included Israeli Arabs, without a different kind of package,” she said. “I was not going to release prisoners and then find the Palestinians at the UN a month later.”

Livni added that she had a responsibility to the bereaved families to ensure that those who had killed their loved ones were not needlessly freed.

“I have to look at the bereaved families and say we are taking this step for something,” Livni said.

She added that it was clear that Israel planned to release the 26 prisoners but was simply delaying it until the details of a package deal were finalized. The Palestinians broke their promise to Israel by not allowing a few extra days and instead applying to 15 treaties, Livni said.

“If I was closing a contract, but said we have to delay for a few days, if you wanted this contract, you would have waited the few days,” she said.

On Thursday night Abbas refused a request by Kerry to suspend the 15 applications. Abbas told Kerry he was committed to the peace talks but that he had no choice but to turn to the international community after Israel violated its agreement to release a final batch of 26 prisoners on March 29.

Abu Rudaineh held the Israeli government responsible for the current crisis in the peace talks for pursuing settlement construction and refusing to release prisoners.

Livni knows that Abbas remains committed to “real and serious negotiations that would lead to a just and comprehensive peace resulting in the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital,” Abu Rudaineh added.

The spokesman said that the US and the international community “appreciate President Abbas’s position and consider him a true and serious peace partner.”

Livni said that Israel had no choice but to try to move forward with Abbas in an effort to reach a peace agreement.

“We can not allow ourselves to say there is ‘no partner.’ And then what? We can not continue in this situation if there is no partner for an agreement. If we do, we will have to do something else and my answer will never be that now we should build [in the settlements] or annex land,” she said.

Livni said she still believed in and wanted bilateral talks.

But in the last months, she said, more talks took place with the Americans than with the Palestinians.

“The American involvement is intensive. We need more direct talks with the Palestinians.”

She lauded Kerry’s efforts but said that moving forward, “The Americans need to be involved to support bilateral talks, but not as an alternative to them.”

Livni added that Netanyahu and Abbas should hold direct talks.

She accused Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel of Bayit Yehudi of trying to sabotage the talks by issuing building tenders over the pre-1967 lines as Israelis and Palestinians were meant to work out a deal.

“He did it deliberately to torpedo what I am doing together with the prime minister. It is not my personal project and the result is that most of the world believes we are guilty even though we acted responsibly.

That is the price of having Uri Ariel and Bayit Yehudi in the government,” she said.

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) said on his Facebook page on Friday, “Now that it is clear that Abu Mazen [Abbas] does not seek peace, we have to ask ourselves, what do we do now. The truth is that there is no magic solution, we will have to learn to live with the conflict,” he said.

Bennett called on Israel to seize this opportunity to annex Area C of the West Bank.

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