US President Barack Obama has vowed to take action against Israel or the Palestinians if either undermines indirect peace talks, a senior Palestinian official said on Thursday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that, in a letter handed to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas by US envoy George Mitchell during a meeting last week, Obama pledged to hold both parties accountable.
"Obama called on president Abbas to return to the negotiations, pledging that if (either) party hinders them or takes provocative steps during the indirect negotiations, there is an American commitment to take steps against it and there will be a re-evaluation of the US administration's policy towards it," the official said.
During the meeting with Abbas, Mitchell "confirmed that the American administration was pledged and committed to taking (such) steps, including revising and reviewing US policy towards Israel," the official added.
Those steps could include Washington refraining from using its permanent veto to protect Israel if the Palestinians were to seek a UN Security Council ruling against continued settlement activity, the official said.
The official said Mitchell told Abbas Israel had pledged not to undertake any work on settlements during the talks and to halt a controversial project to build 1,600 settler homes in east Jerusalem.
A US embassy spokesman declined to comment on the report.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat confirmed that Abbas had received a letter from Obama that said he "remains committed to the two-state solution and is prepared to exert every effort to give it the opportunity to succeed."
The Palestinians were to meet with Arab foreign ministers on Saturday to discuss whether to hold US-brokered indirect talks with Israel, and Abbas said earlier this week he hoped for a "positive response."
In March, the Palestinians, with Arab backing, grudgingly agreed to indirect talks but the initiative collapsed days later when Israel announced the east Jerusalem plans during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden.
That announcement drew a sharp rebuke from Washington, which has been struggling for months to relaunch peace negotiations last suspended after the December 2008 outbreak of the Gaza war.