US Secretary of State Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf promised reporters on Friday that Israel and the Palestinian Authority are still hard at work to find common ground in recent peace talks.
"I will say that the two parties remain at the table. These are complicated issues. We know this is not an easy process, but we are in continuing discussions," Harf said during a press conference.
Her comments were in response to pessimistic statements made by Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who told reporters on Thursday he felt that Israel was sabotaging the peace talks.
"There is a kind of pattern in these negotiations since they began," Erekat said, "every time there's a (negotiating) session, there is an announcement on tenders" for new settler homes.
Erekat's comments shed a pessimistic light on the situation in the Middle East before a planned meeting between US President Barack Obama and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The White House confirmed that they will meet this coming Tuesday to discuss the Middle East peace process during a speech to the United Nations General Assembly.
During the press conference, Harf also addressed comments made by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who urged the West not to be lulled by false promises from Iran regarding the nuclear issue.
"Our security relationship with Israel is the deepest and broadest that it’s ever been," Harf declared, "but we’ve all said that we are committed to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, that all options are on the table to do that, but obviously, diplomacy is the preferred one, and that they’re – we’re not out of time here yet."
Harf pointed toward economic sanctions as the reason for Iran wanting to come to the table, "the most stringent sanctions regime we’ve ever put in place against the Iranian Government is part of why we are here today with this opportunity for diplomacy."
Reuters contributed to this report.
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