The United States denied on Friday that Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to secure a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have failed.
Rather, claimed State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, the talks are in a “moment of transition” and Kerry’s team is adopting a "holding period" as the sides decide their next moves.
"This is a moment of transition," Psaki said, according to AFP. "We can't force the parties to take steps they're unwilling to take."
"We're in a holding period to see what the parties are willing to figure out about what's next," she added.
Kerry's attempts to broker a peace deal by April 29 all but collapsed on Thursday when Israel pulled out of the negotiations, a response to the unity pact agreed upon by the PA and the Hamas terrorist group.
But Psaki denied that Kerry felt he had failed in his efforts since taking office in February 2013 to seal a long-elusive peace treaty.
"He's always said that he believed it was worth it, not just for the United States to engage in this effort as a facilitator or to play any role possible in helping these parties come to the table, but worth it for the parties because the status quo is not sustainable," Psaki told reporters, according to AFP.
"Because the future where there is a two-state solution, where there is greater opportunity, where there is greater economic prosperity, is still in the interest of both people," she insisted.
"And we continue to believe that it's in America's interest as well as Israel's interest and the interests of the Palestinian people to see if we can resolve this conflict," said Psaki.
She further claimed that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas had insisted that any government formed with Hamas "will be his government and represent his policies, and that includes recognition of Israel, commitment to non-violence, adherence to prior agreements and commitment to peaceful negotiations toward a two-state solution."
Abbas's assurances were a "positive thing," Psaki said, but Washington would need to see what happens over the coming weeks.
On Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama, whose administration dragged the two sides back to the negotiating table last July, called the Hamas-Fatah unity deal "unhelpful".
"The fact that recently President Abbas took the unhelpful step of rejoining talks with Hamas is just one of a series of choices that both Israel and the Palestinians have made which are not conducive to solving this crisis," Obama said.
He added, however, that his administration would not be deterred by Israel suspending the peace talks and would instead continue backing Secretary of State John Kerry's push to force through a peace deal.
Kerry, for his part, called for "compromises" from both sides on Thursday, saying, "We will never give up our hope or our commitment for the possibilities of peace."
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)