U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he is making progress on the Middle East peace process, but more work is still needed.
Kerry spoke after meeting Saturday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for the second time in two days in the West Bank city of Ramallah. He hopes Israeli and Palestinian leaders can soon agree on a framework peace deal.
Kerry said the peace negotiators are beginning to "flesh out the toughest hurdles yet to be overcome." Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said failure is not an option for Palestinians.
Several hundred protesters had marched through the streets Friday to denounce the peace talks as a delay tactic.
Kerry has also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman during his visit to the region. He told the leaders a framework deal would narrow differences between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators and provide guidelines for permanent agreements.
The Secretary of State said a framework agreement would be a "significant breakthrough," though it would be less ambitious than his initial goal of reaching a comprehensive peace deal by April.
Kerry is scheduled to travel back to Jerusalem later for more talks with the Israeli prime minister.
His visit — the 10th since March — comes as the Israelis and Palestinians accuse each other of sabotaging efforts to reach a two-state solution to their decades-old conflict.
Kerry met on Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who questioned whether Palestinians are "committed to peace," accusing them of failing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and "embracing terrorists as heroes."
He was referring to the strong welcome that Palestinian prisoners received in the West Bank this week after being released from Israeli prisons as part of the peace process.
Abbas has complained about ongoing Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, saying Israel is trying to take land that would be part of a future Palestinian state. The U.S. has also criticized Israel's settlement construction as illegitimate and unhelpful.
There is disagreement over U.S. proposals for security arrangements in the Jordan Valley, where the West Bank borders Jordan.
Israel wants to keep troops there, saying this is essential for security reasons. Palestinians say this would violate the sovereignty of their future state.
Other key issues to be resolved include the remaining borders between the two states, the future of Jerusalem, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.