Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas
on Sunday blasted the peace process with Israel
as "clinically dead" just days before negotiator Saeb Erekat meets US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"The peace process is clinically dead and the Israeli side is definitely the one responsible," Abbas said at a conference in the West Bank town of Ramallah, reiterating a statement he has made on several oc-casions.
"The ball is in their court."
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been on ice since autumn 2010 in an intractable dispute over Jewish settlements, with the Palestinians refusing to return to negotiations without a set-tlement freeze and Israel's agreement to accept pre-1967 lines as the basis for talks.
Israel has said it wants an immediate return to the negotiating table -- but without such preconditions.
Despite the lack of movement, world diplomats have been seeking ways of bringing the sides back to-gether, with Erekat set to hold talks with Clinton on the issue in Washington on Tuesday.
"I was assigned by President Abbas to inform US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of our position on resuming negotiations once Israel commits to stopping settlement activity and release of prisoners, among other obligations," Erekat told AFP on Sunday, a day ahead of his departure for the United States.
"These are not preconditions but obligations and Israel must abide by them," he said.
"We hope the American administration compels the Israeli government to fulfill its obligations in order to get the peace process back on track."
Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
have exchanged letters on issues linked to the moribund peace process in a move that followed an informal series of meetings in Jordan in January that did not succeed in bringing the sides back to the table.