The United States remains "hopeful" that Israelis and Palestinians will pursue fledgling peace talks despite the scheduled expiration of a settlement freeze on Sunday, a top White House official said.
"We are going to urge and urge, and push throughout this day to get some kind of resolution" of the settlement issue, David Axelrod, President Barack Obama's top policy advisor, said in a television interview.
Palestinian leaders have vowed to break off US-brokered peace talks which resumed only earlier this month if Israel ends the freeze on construction of Jewish homes in the occupied West Bank. The freeze is due to expire at midnight.
Axelrod told ABC News that Washington still thought a compromise was possible on the issue, despite preparations by Jewish settlers to immediately begin new West Bank building when the freeze ends.
"We think it's essential that they keep on moving forward, keep on talking, keep on trying to work through these issues, and we're hopeful that they will," he said.
"These talks themselves are absolutely crucial -- we're at a critical juncture in that region," he said.
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