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Kerry: US Reevaluating Role in Middle East Talks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the Obama administration is reevaluating its role in the Middle East peace process, following moves by Israel and the Palestinians that have caused talks to collapse.

Kerry said Friday there is a limit to the amount of time and effort the U.S. can invest if both sides are unwilling to take "constructive steps" for peace. He said the U.S. effort cannot be "open-ended."

He also said both sides have made "regrettable" moves in recent days that have endangered the talks.

Those moves include Palestinian pursuit of further recognition by the United Nations and Israel's cancellation of a plan to release a fourth group of Palestinian prisoners.

Ongoing Israeli settlement building in the West Bank has also affected the negotiations.



Also Friday, dozens of Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops in the West Bank town of Beituniya, as they protested Israel's decision not to free Palestinian prisoners. Protesters threw stones at Israeli troops who responded with tear gas.

On Thursday, Israel cancelled the planned release of a fourth group of Palestinian prisoners in response to the Palestinian leadership's signing of more than a dozen international conventions.

Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said Palestinian actions violated the conditions for the release, which were contingent on the Palestinians refraining from making unilateral moves.

Secretary Kerry has spent the past few weeks trying to keep the negotiations going, as the initial nine-month period that Israel and the Palestinians agreed to last year nearing an end.
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