U.S. assessing 'most effective path forward' for peace talks
Despite upcoming holiday period, U.S. determined to push Mideast peace efforts ahead, says official.
After meetings this week between U.S. administration officials and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the U.S. on Friday said it will continue to be in contact with both Israel and the Palestinians to determine how to move peace talks forward.
"Obviously, in the region we are approaching kind of a holiday period," said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.
"We'll continue our contacts informally with the parties. But we'll probably go through a period now of a week to 10 days where everyone's assessing where we are and still trying to construct the most effective path forward," Crowley added.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu's seven-member inner cabinet, which he consults on major policy decisions, met on Friday to discuss "understandings" with the U.S. reached during the prime minister's trip to Washington.
A spokesman for Netanyahu, Nir Hefetz, said earlier Friday that the prime minister had reached a "series of understandings" on policy toward Palestinians in talks with U.S. President Barack Obama.
"The construction policy will not change, but Israel is prepared to make additional steps in order to advance peace talks," Hefetz said.
Soon after Hefetz made the comments, the government issued a clarification, however: Any understanding with the U.S. did not mean American backing for Israeli construction in east Jerusalem.
When Hefetz said understandings had been reached, he was "articulating the Israeli position; he is not articulating a joint position", spokesman Mark Regev said.
A senior official at the prime minister's bureau said Thursday that it was unlikely the forum would reach a decision in its first meeting on the issue.
"It will probably take two or three meetings before any kind of consensus is reached between the seven over the American demands," the official said.