Israel, Palestinian Negotiators to Meet Again With U.S. Envoy

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will try again today to “overcome the crisis” menacing eight months of peace talks, a U.S. official said.

The two sides will meet with the Obama administration’s special Middle East envoy, Martin Indyk, for a second straight day, according to Leslie Ordeman, the U.S. consulate spokesman in Jerusalem.

“We are keeping the door open and are ready to be there as long as the Israeli side is serious,” Mohammed Shtayyeh, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s decision-making central committee and former negotiator, told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. He said six hours of talks yesterday ended inconclusively.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev had no comment on the negotiations, which have reached their most serious impasse since resuming in July after a three-year breakdown.

The sides, who agreed to nine months of talks ending April 29, deadlocked last month after Israel delayed the promised release of Palestinian prisoners. They’ve accused each other of sabotaging the talks, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who originally had aspired to a final peace accord by the end of this month, is assessing whether to bother extending them.

Israeli Justice Minister and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni said April 5 that negotiations were in “real crisis.” She called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to skirt negotiations and revive a diplomatic campaign to expand international recognition of Palestinian statehood a “violation and big mistake that will make it very hard to go back to normal.”

The Palestinians say they were forced to act because they consider Israel to be acting in bad faith, citing the delayed prisoner release and the continued construction of homes for settlers in areas Palestinians claim for their hoped-for state.

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