Palestinian officials said that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton should have blamed Israel for the failure of the latest Mideast efforts.
The officials reacted on Saturday to a Clinton speech before Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy's seventh annual forum in Washington, in which she said Israelis and Palestinians both bear responsibility for the failure of the direct talks that took place in September.
In her speech on Friday, Clinton criticized the leadership of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, saying they had "not yet made the difficult decisions that peace requires. Like many of you, I regret that we have not gotten farther, faster."
"Israeli and Palestinian leaders should stop trying to assign blame for the next failure and focus instead on what they need to do to make these efforts succeed," she said.
The Obama administration said earlier this week that it stopped trying to get Israel to renew a freeze on West Bank settlement construction for three months, after a 10-month freeze expired on September 26. The U.S. now wants to return to indirect talks.
The Palestinians have said they won't resume negotiations without a full settlement construction freeze. Despite their disappointment with Washington's performance, the Palestinians are likely to participate in indirect talks. They said they'll make a final decision within a week.
In her speech, Clinton also said that a Palestinian state achieved through negotiation is inevitable.
Clinton said that the United States is serious about pushing forward a peace agreement and laying the foundations for a future Palestinian state.
"We will deepen our support of the Palestinians’ state-building efforts, because we recognize that a Palestinian state, achieved through negotiations, is inevitable," Clinton said, adding that "the long-term population trends that result from the occupation are endangering the Zionist vision of a Jewish and democratic state in the historic homeland of the Jewish people."
U.S. Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell will head back to the region next week, and Clinton said diplomacy would now concentrate on a range of "core issues" - all of which have proved difficult to resolve.
These include borders and security, settlements, water, refugees, and Jerusalem itself, which Israel says is its capital but which the Palestinians also hope will serve as the capital of their future independent state.
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