US: Israel, Palestinians have taken 'unhelpful steps' in past days

State Department official says neither side has indicated they want to end peace talks; US 'discussing options' for path ahead; Indyk, Livni and Erekat meet in emergency meeting to save talks.

April 2, 2014 18:04
1 minute read.
John Kerry

John Kerry . (photo credit: Reuters)


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Israel and the Palestinians have taken "unhelpful steps" in the past day but neither have indicated they want to end peace talks, a senior US State Department official said on Wednesday.

The official who briefed reporters in Brussels on condition of anonymity, said the United States would discuss options for the path ahead with both parties in the next few days.

"Both sides have taken unhelpful steps over the last 24 hours. But neither party has given any indication...that they want to end the negotiations," the official said.

The comments come following a roller-coaster 24-hour period for diplomacy in the Middle East. Earlier on Wednesday, Palestinian Authority President Abbas applied  for membership to 15 international organizations, breaking part of an agreement with Israel not to do so. 

US special envoy to the peace negotiations Martin Indyk, Israel's representatives to the talks Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Molcho, and Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat were meeting Wednesday evening in an emergency meeting in Jerusalem to try to save the faltering talks.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas also spoke by telephone on Wednesday evening.

Palestinian officials said  the move was a response to Israel’s failure to meet the March 29 deadline for the release of the final batch of prisoners.

Under the terms of the agreement last July that enabled the current round of negotiations – which is set to expire on April 29 – Israel was to release 104 Palestinian security prisoners in four phases, and the Palestinians were to refrain from unilateral moves in the international arena.

This development threatened to scuttle a US-brokered deal that would see the US release Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, Israel free the last batch of prisoners – in addition to another 400 Palestinian prisoners – and curb settlement construction, and the Palestinians agree to extend diplomatic talks and not to seek redress in international organizations.

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