WASHINGTON — The Obama administration sought Friday to direct Israel and the Palestinians back toward direct peace talks, even as the two sides and much of the world seemed to be ignoring the U.S. attempts at leadership on a Mideast peace strategy.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was scheduled to meet with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials Friday, with each side taking actions that the United States had expressly warned against: the Palestinians winning U.N. recognition of their claim to a state on Thursday and the Israelis retaliating Friday by approving 3,000 new homes on Israeli-occupied territory.
The administration had campaigned for nearly two years to prevent the Palestinian action at the United Nations, fearful that it would anger Israel so much that the resumption of direct talks between the Jewish state and Palestinians would be impossible. The administration remains concerned as well that statehood could mean International Criminal Court action against Israeli soldiers for their conduct in Palestinian or disputed territory — a scenario Washington believes would greatly debilitate peace hopes.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said U.S. officials are "going to continue our effort to try to get these parties to the table because that's the only way that we are going to get to two states for two peoples."