Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas held on Tuesday a tripartite meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York.
The three-way talks, held on Tuesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, yielded no signs of a breakthrough beyond a handshake between Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, before the summit.
Obama started his remarks as saying: I have just concluded frank and productive bilateral meetings with both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas. I want to thank them both for appearing here today. I'm now looking forward to this opportunity to hold the first meeting among the three of us since we took office.
"The United States is committed to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East" Obama said." That includes a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that results in two states -Israel and Palestine - in which both the Israeli people and the Palestinian people can live in peace and security and realize their aspirations for a better life for their children."
For Abbas, the meeting was "not productive", an aide said.
Mohammad Dahlan, a senior spokesman and former security chief for Abbas's Fatah party, said Abbas could still refuse to accept an invitation from Obama to negotiations.
"The U.S. administration has retreated from its position at the expense of peace," Dahlan told Reuters.
Abbas again demanded on Tuesday that any negotiations should be conditioned on freezing settlement, in line with the 2003 "road map" to peace, and should resume at a point reached a year ago, when Netanyahu's centrist predecessor Ehud Olmert was offering a deal on borders and on dividing control of Jerusalem.
The Palestinian leader said that Israel must recognise the borders established before Israel captured Palestinian territories in the Arab-Israeli war in 1967.
After the talks, Netanyahu told reporters: "There was general agreement, including on the part of the Palestinians, that the peace process has to be resumed as soon as possible, with no pre-conditions."
Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have been suspended since the beginning of 2008.
But Netanyahu insisted that he will recognise no offer Olmert may have made, nor even discuss Israel's hold on Jerusalem, nor its refusal to accept the return of Palestinian refugees.
Dahlan said: "We know we're weak but our strength stems from rejection of such meetings." Asked about a risk of violence, he added: "People living under occupation have plenty of options."
U.S. President Barack Obama is demanding a complete freeze of all Israeli building on the occupied West Bank, but the Netanyahu government has insisted on ongoing constructions.
Obama has pressed Israel to halt settlement activity as part of a bid to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
The World Court has ruled all settlements illegal under international law. The United States and European Union regard them as obstacles to peace.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem along with the rest of the West Bank, Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan Heights in June 1967. In 1980 Israel annexed the eastern half of Jerusalem, declaring the whole of the city it 'eternal capital,' a step rejected by the UN Security Council.