"George Mitchell said the establishment of a Palestinian state and the two-state solution are in the interest of the United States," senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Friday following a meeting between President Barack Obama's special Mideast envoy and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramalllah.
According to Erekat, Abbas told Mitchell that the Palestinians were committed to the peace process and demanded that Israel abide by the US-backed Road Map for peace, which calls on Jerusalem to freeze settlement construction on West Bank land known as E1, near Ma'aleh Adumim.
"Abbas made it clear to Mitchell that the continued settlement construction and the demolition of homes (in Jerusalem) are making it impossible to advance the peace process," Erekat said.
"The Palestinian representatives demanded that the Americans pressure the Israeli government to live up to its obligations and acknowledge the two-state solution. We made it clear to Mitchell and his team that the current Israeli government supports settlement construction and opposes the two-state principle, and we urged them to force the Israeli government to implement these principles," the negotiator said.
Earlier Friday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said during a meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign minister for Middle Eastern Affairs Alexander Saltanov that Israel's foreign policy has yet to be determined.
On Thursday Mitchell said the US administration was committed to Israel's security, but is equally committed to the two-state solution.
Mitchell reportedly relayed a message to that effect to Lieberman and President Shimon Peres, who he met Thursday morning.
The envoy told the Israeli foreign minister that the US expects the Israeli government to strive to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plan to implement a "financial peace" does not suffice, he stressed, telling Lieberman that the Obama administration expects financial steps to be part of the ongoing process.
According to sources in the Foreign Ministry, Lieberman explained that the traditional approach to the peace process, taken by previous governments, has proven futile; leaving the process deadlocked despite the fact that they introduced dramatic concessions.