After the nine-month deadline for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks expired on Tuesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry's aides said that he would again try to get the sides back to the negotiating table after a pause of several months.
The talks came to an official halt on Tuesday, though Israel had already decided to cancel further negotiations last week in response to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's decision to form a unity government with Hamas, who does not recognize Israel's right to exist.
Kerry came under fire earlier this week for comments he made in a closed door meeting which were leaked by the American news website The Daily Beast. Both US and Israeli politicians criticized the US secretary of state for saying in the meeting that Israel is in danger of becoming an "apartheid" regime should it fail to reach an agreement with the Palestinians based on the two-state solution.
Instead of admitting failure, aides said Kerry would continue his Mideast negotiations push after a hiatus of several months. After an initial domestic political boost, the aide predicted, Israeli and Palestinian officials would be forced back to the table by the long-term need for a two-state solution.
"It's a matter of time before they all come back," the aide predicted, "and want to have negotiations."
The nine-month deadline for the Israeli-Palestinian talks expired on Tuesday with the sides trading blame.
“Israel would have liked to be at a different place,” said one government official familiar with the negotiations. “We would have liked to see a successful outcome to the negotiations. But what we saw was a Palestinian side that didn’t engage in good faith when the Americans put on the table principles for final status. In dealing with the core issues, the Palestinians ran away.”
The Palestinians rejected an American package to continue the talks, he continued. “And the final nail in the coffin came in the agreement to form a pact with Hamas.”
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat, meanwhile, accused Israel of actively sabotaging peace talks. “Unfortunately, Israel never gave the negotiations a chance to succeed,” the Bethlehem-based Ma’an News Agency quoted Erekat as saying.
“To build settlements in occupied land, kill Palestinians and demolish hundreds of Palestinian homes is certainly not the behavior of a government that wants to end occupation, but of a government that wants to turn occupation into annexation,” he said.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had taken advantage of the nine-month negotiating period to “consolidate [Israel’s] apartheid regime,” Erekat claimed.