US Re-Evaluating Role in Mideast Peace Talks
The United States will re-evaluate its role in Middle East peace talks. Leaders made that decision after recent moves from both Israeli and Palestinian leadership all but ended negotiations.
Earlier this week the Palestinian Authority moved to unilaterally push for recognition as a state at the United Nations, outside of the negotiating process.
Israel agreed last year to release 104 Palestinian terrorists in four stages as an incentive to keep the peace talks going. But the talks had periodically broken down and it wasn't clear that the Palestinians would actually continue talking if Israel released the terrorists.
Secretary of State John Kerry says it's time for a reality check, adding, "There are limits to the amount of time and effort that the United States can spend if the parties themselves are unable to take constructive steps."
Meanwhile, violence is stirring in the region as the hope for peace talks dims.
Dozens of Palestinians threw stones at Israeli troops Friday. They responded with tear-gas.
The clashes come after Israel announced they would not go through with a fourth round of prisoner releases that was a condition of peace talks with Palestinians.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the next Palestinian move depends on Israel, according to the Associated Press.
"We signed 15 [conventions], but there are still 48 treaties, conventions and agencies that we have not signed yet," he told journalists. "If the Israelis release the 30 prisoners, we are committed not to join these agencies, treaties and conventions. But if they [the Israelis] don't, we have a free hand."
"We don't have anything to lose," Erekat said, but added that salvaging negotiations is still an option.
"The focus now is really, we want to avoid the crash [of the talks], we don't want to undermine the American efforts," he said.