Just hours before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome, the Palestinians when on a brief PR blitz aimed at putting the blame for the failing peace negotiations squarely on Israel's shoulders.
"If they (the talks) collapse, they (Israelis) will be the reason for the collapse, not us," Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas told reporters in Lithuania on Tuesday, singling out Israel's demand to maintain a military presence in the Jordan Valley as the latest obstacle to peace.
At the UN Security Council, Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour suggested it was Israel's "settlement activity" alone that was preventing the conclusion of a final status agreement.
"Despite the genuine efforts being exerted, tangible progress remains elusive and hopes are diminishing," Mansour told the council.
Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor retorted that the negotiations had hit a snag because the Palestinians were maintaining long-held hard-line positions, such as the demand to flood Israel with millions of so-called "Palestinian refugees."
Despite the clear lack of common ground, and obviously ignoring the debate taking place right in front of him, UN Under Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman optimistically declared that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was "picking up pace."
Kerry made similar remarks before departing for Rome earlier in the week.
Netanyahu had hoped to focus most of his meeting with Kerry on the Iran threat and on the need to maintain Western sanctions until the Islamic Republic actually demonstrates its willingness to stop seeking nuclear arms.
But diplomatic sources cited in the Israeli press said that Kerry would be pressing Netanyahu for Israel to do more to get the peace process with the Palestinians moving forward.
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