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His comments came after President Mahmoud Abbas turned to the UN and international organisations to recognize Palestinian statehood after Israel balked on releasing dozens of prisoners as a pre-condition to continued negotiations.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the other hand, accused the Palestinians of refusing to recognise his country as a “Jewish State”.
Netanyahu said the order to halt the release of some 26 Palestinian prisoners – the final batch of a total 104 – in response to Abbas’s “unilateral” move to join international organisations and agencies.
Both sides have assured the secretary of state that they are committed to the peace process, but that they also do not trust one another. On Friday, the Israelis and Palestinians traded accusations over who was to blame for the near collapse of the current round of negotiations.
On Wednesday, Kerry canceled a scheduled meeting with Abbas.
Speaking to reporters during his visit to the Moroccan capital Rabat, Kerry said: “There are limits to the amount of time and effort that the United States can spend if the parties themselves are unwilling to take constructive steps in order to be able to move forward.”
“We intend to evaluate,” he added. “Both sides say they want to continue. Neither party has said they have called it off. But we are not going to sit there indefinitely. It is not an open-ended effort.”
In June, Kerry began a concerted effort to get both sides to resume talks that had been halted since 2010 over Israel’s settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians recognize as the capital of their future state.
In late July, an agreement was reached for Israel to release 104 long-serving prisoners in exchange for the Palestinians dropping the pre-condition that Israel halt settlement-building and expansion before they return to the negotiating table.
Israel released the first 26 prisoners on December 31.