"Final status talks between the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams have reached a severe standstill, due to Israeli stubbornness," a senior Ramallah official was quoted as saying Saturday. The official told Al Quds Alarabi that the Israeli delegation was "not demonstrating flexibility on any issue." The official told the London-based newspaper that the team led by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni lacks the authority to take decisive steps which would lead to formulating a draft final status agreement. "Livni appears like someone who is incapable of taking any stance since she is worried about facing a backlash from government ministers who oppose the negotiations," he said, claiming that the aim of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad's visit to the US was to try and find ways to advance the peace talks. In addition, PA Minister for Prisoner Affairs Ashraf al-Ajrami told the newspaper that Israel was not contributing to creating an atmosphere conducive to a peace agreement. "It [Israel] is continuing its policies of blockades, settlements and checkpoints and it is not releasing prisoners in accordance with the Road Map's demands," he said. Ajrami went on to say that in the current peace talks, Israel did not appear sincere in wanting to reach a resolution. "In this light, Fayad said that there is no chance of reaching an agreement by the end of 2008," said the prisoner affairs minister, adding that "a peace deal is likely to be a lifesaver for the Israeli government following the Winograd report."