A senior Palestinian official said on Thursday he saw no hope of a serious peace process with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as long as settlement construction continues.
"There will be no serious political process while Netanyahu's government pursues settlements," Abed Rabbo told Voice of Palestine radio.
However, other American, Israeli, and Palestinian officials expressed optimism about breaking the current impasse and resume direct peace talks, Time Magazine reported in its online edition.
A US official said PM Netanyahu was close to finalizing a deal to keep the negotiations going, Time said. Other Palestinian officials expressed similar sentiments, while Israeli officials said the prime minister wants the talks to continue.
Abbas and Netanyahu met three times before the end of the moratorium. The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) said on Saturday talks would not resume until Israel halted settlement building on land where the Palestinians aim to found a state.
The US and EU had called on Israel to extend the settlement freeze. The expiry of the moratorium had been seen as an early obstacle facing US President Barack Obama's push to end the six-decade-old conflict within a year.
Before the peace talks got under way, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had himself raised doubts over the chances of peace with an Israeli government headed by Netanyahu. But Palestinian officials had avoided such remarks once direct negotiations began in Washington. The Palestinians say settlement growth on land occupied by Israel in 1967 will make establishment of a viable Palestinian state impossible.
Netanyahu has called on the Palestinians to continue the talks. Abbas will brief the Arab League's peace process follow-up committee on the state of the talks with Israel on Friday in Libya. The meeting will be followed by an Arab summit on Saturday.
Abed Rabbo said he expected Arab support for the Palestinian position. "The discussion at the upcoming Arab summit and the Arab follow-up committee will be about the coming political choices and not about whether there will be negotiations while settlement is going on," he said.
Ali Waked contributed to the story
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