BID TO EXTEND TALKS
The US state department said “a range of issues” would be discussed and that both sides remained “highly engaged”.
“Both parties tell us they want negotiations to continue,” she added.
The direct talks, which resumed last July, appeared on the verge of collapse earlier this month when both sides took what the US called “unhelpful steps”.
The Palestinians submitted applications to join 15 UN treaties and conventions, while Israel refused to release a fourth group of 26 long-term Palestinian prisoners and reissued tenders for more than 700 new homes at a Jewish settlement in occupied East Jerusalem.
There are steps that both parties would need to take in order to improve the conditions for peace ”
Jen PsakiUS Department of State
Call for restraint
US Secretary of State John Kerry and US special envoy Martin Indyk have been trying to persuade both sides to agree to a “framework” accord on core issues that would allow the negotiations to continue.
“The parties are working right now on an agreement to extend the negotiations, and that means extending the negotiations past 29 April,” state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington.
“There are naturally a range of issues being discussed. There are steps that both parties would need to take in order to improve the conditions for peace but the parties remain highly engaged.”
Ms Psaki also urged both sides to “exercise restraint”.
Tensions were raised on Monday when an off-duty Israeli policeman was killed by a gunman in the West Bank, on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Passover. His wife and child were wounded in the attack outside Hebron.
On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the “assassination” of Baruch Mizrahi, a high-ranking officer in the police’s intelligence division, was “the result of incitement by Palestinian Authority leaders who continue to peddle hate-filled material against Israel”.
He also complained that the PA, which governs parts of the West Bank not under Israeli control, had failed to condemn the attack.
Palestinian Religious Affairs Minister Mahmoud al-Habash did so on Wednesday, telling Israeli reporters in Ramallah that he felt “the pain of the families”. He added that he expected the Israeli government to condemn the killing of Palestinians, but that “this doesn’t happen”.
Also on Wednesday, clashes erupted between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police at a holy site in Jerusalem, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary).
Reports say the violence broke out after the site was opened to visitors in the morning.
The protesters began throwing stones, and the police officers responded by firing stun grenades and rubber bullets. The AFP news agency reported that dozens of protesters were hurt.