Rice and Abbas meet in Ramallah
Rice and Abbas meet in RamallahReuters

Susan Rice, U.S. President Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser, met on Thursday night with Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Following the late dinner meeting in Ramallah, Rice said that despite the halt in talks between the PA and Israel, the U.S. remained committed to the process.

"Ambassador Rice underscored that while we have come to a pause in the parties' talks, the United States believes the only way to achieve lasting peace is through direct negotiations that lead to two viable, independent states living side-by-side in peace and security," said a White House statement quoted by AFP.

Referring to the PA-Hamas rapprochement, Rice “reiterated U.S. policy that any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognition of the State of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties,” the statement said.

According to AFP, Abbas told his guest that the Palestinian people's interest was "to seek the unity of land and people through the implementation of the  reconciliation agreement and the formation of a government of independents to prepare free and fair elections.”

Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah movement recently signed a unity deal aimed at ending their seven-year rivalry, and Israel responded by pulling out of the talks and imposing sanctions on the PA.

On Thursday, Nabil Shaath, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and a close confidant of Abbas, said the PA wants to renew peace talks.

Hamas for its part continues to be adamant over its control of a "unity" government, expressing over and over again that it would remain in control of both Gaza and the PA-held areas after elections, and insisting that Ismail Haniyeh would rule the government. 

Before her meeting with Abbas, Rice met in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Despite the breakdown of talks, officials in Washington have insisted that efforts to secure a peace treaty had not failed, saying instead that the talks are in a “moment of transition”.