Israeli and Palestinian negotiators meeting US Sepcial Envoy Martin Indyk to try and find a way to extend faltering peace talks have failed to reach an agreement, a Palestinian source told AFP.
The meeting began in the late afternoon on Thursday in a Jerusalem hotel but ended after five hours of "very difficult discussions", the source said.
"The gap (between the parties) is still wide. There was no breakthrough," a Palestinian source told the French news agency.
Indyk is now expected to meet negotiators again on Friday, but will first talk to the Israeli and Palestinian sides separately. The peace negotiators also met without Indyk on Sunday in a meeting which also failed to yeild fruit.
Peace negotiations for an envisaged two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict hit a crisis this month when Abbas signed a package of international conventions. Israel saw that as violating a pledge not to do so that the Palestinians made last July when the talks resumed after a three-year break.
The Palestinians accused Israel of bringing about the crisis by failing to free some two dozen prisoners Israel had pledged to release under a deal struck by US Secretary of State John Kerry who has brokered the negotiations.
Israel has said it would free the inmates, including convicted killers of Israelis, only if the Palestinians promise to pursue the talks, which have yielded little visible progress, beyond an April 29 deadline set by Kerry last year.
During a meeting
Abbas held with leftwing Israeli MKs from the Labor party and Meretz on Wednesday, Abbas insinuated his willingness to extend talks by an additional nine months, on the condition that talks held during this time would focus on core issues – namely final border arrangements.
Palestinian Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud al Habbash, who was also present at the meeting, said that during recent talks between the two sides, the Palestinians demanded Israel present a map of the borders of the future Palestinian state, an issue which they want to be at the heart of talks should they continue.
Thursday's meeting had been postponed from Wednesday when emotions ran high in Israel as a funeral was held for an off-duty police officer gunned down while driving his family to a settlement in the West Bank for a Passover holiday meal.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Palestinian Authority of engaging in anti-Israeli incitement which led to the attack, for which no Palestinian group has claimed responsibility.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement on Wednesday saying he "condemned violence and the killing of Palestinians and Israelis," after Netanyahu charged that he had not condemned Monday's attack