White House urges Israel, Palestinians to resume negotiations
US urges end of settlement activity, prevention of terror following meeting between Secretary of State Clinton, Obama on stalled Mideast peace talks. Washington source says negotiations still far from resuming. US Mideast envoy Mitchell to hold additional visit to region
The White House urged Israel and the Palestinians on Thursday to do more to open the way to renewed peace negotiations as President Barack Obama received a report on the status of US peacemaking efforts.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with President Obama earlier in the day and presented him with her report on the progress in the efforts to resume negotiations in the Middle East, which according to her was scant.
In a statement made following the meeting the US administration called Palestinians to do more on "stopping incitement and preventing terror" and Israel to take meaningful action on stopping settlement activity.
A senior official in the Obama administration said the renewal of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians was still far off but that some progress has been made.
Another US official said the Palestinians have strengthened their security efforts while the Israelis have expressed a willingness to curtail settlement activity.
President Obama asked Clinton and US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell to devise a report following the three-way summit in New York with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
State Department spokesman Ian Kelly commented earlier Thursday that there are reports of optimism among Israeli elements regarding the possibility of renewing negotiations. Kelly was unable to confirm the reports.
Secretary of State Clinton spoke to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday while Mitchell completed another round of talks with Israeli and Palestinian representatives in Washington. Mitchell is expected to hold an additional visit to the region.
'No drama expected'
While Israel remained alert ahead of the report's submission, a senior political source in Jerusalem stressed that "no great dramas are expected. At this point we're not planning to issue a statement."
During the three-way summit in New York in September President Obama announced that he expects a report from Clinton and Mitchell by October on developments towards the renewal of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
At this stage it does not appear that Mitchell's visits to Israel, the West Bank and other Middle Eastern countries have led to a decision on an agreed date for the resumption of talks. The US is expected to continue with its efforts on that point.
Netanyahu has expressed his willingness to open negotiations with no pre-conditions on several occasions which led Israeli elements to claim that the Palestinians are the ones causing the delay on the talks.
Reuters, AP and Roni Sofer contributed to this report