U.S.: We Want to See Entire Mideast Support Direct Peace Talks

Ahead of Arab League ruling on the possibility of resuming troubled peace talks, State Department official says only direct negotiations can resolve region's issues.

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The United States would like to see the entire Mideast continue its support of direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, a U.S. official said Thursday, ahead of an Arab League meeting which may signal the resolve of the recent negotiations deadlock.

Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.Credit: AP

An Arab League summit planned for Friday is said to rule whether or not the Palestinian Authority may return to the negotiations table after walking out in the wake of Israel's recently expiring moratorium on settlement building.

Speaking of the planned Arab League meeting, Deputy State Department Spokesman Mark Toner said that what Washington considered "the best outcome is continued support in the region for direct negotiations."

"We want to see a positive signal come out tomorrow that talks about keeping negotiations on track. That is our goal, fundamentally," Toner said, adding that the U.S. wanted "to see negotiations continue because it's only through direct negotiations that any of these issues are going to ultimately be resolved. So we're in direct negotiations now. We hope that they continue."

Toner's comments came as what seemed like attempts to reach a deal that would allow Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resume negations were reaching fever pitch, with reports alleging that U.S. President Obama had offered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu incentives that would make extending the settlement freeze easier to pass in his right-leaning cabinet.

While last month a White House official denied such reports, Israel's envoy to the United States Michael Oren provided the first official confirmation of the possibility of a forming deal, saying the "administration has come back to Israel with a number of suggestions - incentives if you would - that would enable the government to maybe pass a limited extension of 2 or 3 months."

"They are talking to the Palestinians as well trying to keep them at the table and talking to the Arab League so that it would give the Palestinians another green light to continue at the table," Oren said, adding that the result, if any, of such attempts will be received "in the next 48 hours."

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