George Mitchell, the US envoy to the Middle East, says that he has not reached a deal with Israel on halting settlement activities in the occupied West Bank.
In a Monday meeting with the acting Palestinian Authority Chief, Mahmoud Abbas, Mitchell said that he was still working on a deal with Israel to halt West Bank settlement activities as a prelude to the resumption of peace talks.
"We are discussing the issue but we didn’t conclude an agreement yet with the Israelis," a senior Palestinian official quoted Mitchell as saying at a working dinner with Abbas.
The US President Barack Obama’s envoy has already held top-level talks in the UK, United Arab Emirates, Syria and Egypt in the past week. The official also cited him telling Abbas that everyone involved must do more in the coming weeks.
"Washington was doing everything it could to achieve a comprehensive peace … between Israelis and Palestinians, between Syria and the Israelis, between Israel and Lebanon and the normalization of relations between Israel and all of the countries in the region," Mitchell told reporters.
The envoy said Obama wanted "an early return to meaningful negotiations and a prompt resolution of those negotiations." He added, "That means that everyone must take steps, some of them difficult, some of them controversial to create the context …"
Mitchell has told Abbas that Obama is committed to the peace process, and is ‘determined and consistent’ about it. Mitchell is due to see the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday.