WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday urged Israel and the Palestinians to make the compromises needed to forge ahead with peace talks, admitting the negotiations had reached "a difficult point."
"There's always a way forward, but the leaders have to make the compromises to do that. We may see a way forward, but if they're not willing to make the compromises necessary it becomes very elusive," Kerry told reporters.
He was speaking only hours after Israel said it was pulling out of the talks, angered by a Palestinian reconciliation deal to bring together the Palestine Liberation Organization and the militant Hamas faction.
"We will never give up our hope or our commitment for the possibilities of peace. We believe it is the only way to go, but right now obviously it's at a very difficult point, and the leaders themselves have to make decisions," Kerry said as he met his Norwegian counterpart Foreign Minister Borge Brende.
"It's up to them," he added.
The two sides had agreed to resume negotiations in July and to keep talking for at least nine months. But with the clock ticking down to Tuesday's deadline, the US-backed talks appear to have hit a brick wall.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said it has "always been up to the parties to make the choices needed to pursue a path to peace."
But she refused to declare the negotiations over, saying "this process needs to work its way through," recalling that "there have been ups and downs" throughout.