MANAMA, (AFP) – Washington is working “intensively” to break the Israel-Palestinian peace impasse, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted on Friday, steering clear of Palestinian reports that US efforts have failed.
“The United States is working intensively to create the conditions that will permit the parties to negotiate their way forward to a final resolution,” Clinton told reporters in the Gulf state of Bahrain.
“We are working very hard to do that, and the United States is prepared to play a very active role but ultimately… only the parties can make these hard decisions,” she said.
“We’re not in any way discouraged.”
She said Washington and Manama had a “shared goal of a two-state solution and a comprehensive peace in the Middle East” that would see an independent Palestinian state living alongside a secure Israel.
For weeks, the United States has been trying to convince Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to impose a new moratorium on settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.
A 10-month freeze expired on September 26, shortly after the launch of new peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the first direct negotiations between the two sides in nearly two years.
The talks ground to a halt after the ban expired and settlement building resumed in the Palestinian territory.
On Thursday, a Palestinian official in the West Bank political capital of Ramallah said “the US administration has informed us that the Israeli government did not agree to a new settlement freeze.”
But Washington has declined to confirm whether or not its efforts for a new freeze had failed.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has said he would not return to the negotiations without a new ban on Jewish construction on land the Palestinians want for their future state.
Clinton was in Bahrain to open the annual Manama Dialogue organised by the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies.