Israel, PLO Still at Odds as US Reviews Peace Push

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators remained at odds on Tuesday on how to salvage teetering peace talks as Washington prepared to review the scale of its involvement in the troubled process.

The two sides met US envoy Martin Indyk late on Monday and are to meet him again on Wednesday, a Palestinian source told AFP.

But amid growing US frustration at the reluctance of either side to compromise, Secretary of State John Kerry was to discuss with President Barack Obama whether to continue investing the same amount of time and political capital in a peace effort being undermined by the actions of both sides.

“There are still differences between the Israeli and Palestinian positions, and the Americans are making great efforts to overcome the difficulties,” a Palestinian source close to the talks told AFP.

A US official confirmed the latest meeting. “Gaps remain but both sides are committed to narrowing the gaps,” he said.

Senior US officials have rejected the idea that Obama intends to pull the plug on the peace push, saying he deeply appreciates the intensive shuttle diplomacy Kerry has invested in it over the past 15 months.

But equally, Obama may need to be convinced that Kerry’s intense focus on the initiative is merited given, its apparently slim chance of success and deepening crises crying out for US attention elsewhere in the world, mostly recently in Ukraine.

Despite Kerry’s efforts, the talks have made no apparent headway since they resumed in July with the stated goal of agreeing a framework peace deal by April 30.

With recriminations and tit-for-tat moves multiplying on both sides, the prospects of their continuing beyond that date look increasingly unlikely.

At the end of March, Israel refused to release a final batch of Palestinian prisoners the PLO had been expecting to be freed under the terms of the talks resumption.

In response, the PLO reneged on their own undertaking to refrain from pursuing alternative avenues for recognition of its promised state, applying last week to adhere to 15 international treaties.

(Ma’an and agencies –

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