JERUSALEM, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Israel is engaged in substantial efforts to revive long-stalled peace talks with the Palestinians and remains committed to far-reaching concessions, an Israeli official said Friday.
"We are at the pre-breakthrough stage. I hope to see direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians resume as soon as possible," Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told reporters.
The remarks came after U.S. President Barack Obama ended a three-day state visit to Israel. On Thursday, Obama met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank, stressing the importance of resuming the peace process without preconditions.
"We have been wasting time negotiating about how to start negotiations. We should just start them," Regev said Friday.
With regard to Palestinians' recognition of a Jewish state, Regev said that although it is "a fundamental ingredient in a peace agreement, we never made it a precondition for talks."
Asked about confidence-building measures, including gestures to the Palestinians, Regev said Israel expected reciprocity.
"We want to see a peace process where both sides are playing a part to move the process forward, a process that is a two-way street," he said.
In a keynote speech in Jerusalem Thursday, Obama spoke of his vision of an independent Palestinian state as the only solution to the conflict, urging Israelis to press their leaders to take the steps required to end a bitter decades-long conflict.
"Netanyahu reiterated during the visit that he and his government are committed to a historic compromise that will end this conflict once and for all, and has clearly laid out his view: a demilitarized Palestinian state co-existing next to a Jewish state," Regev said.
"The prime minister will be leading on this issue," he said.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to return to Israel on Saturday for further discussions on how to revive the moribund peace process.
Regev did not comment on whether Kerry and the Israelis would be deliberating concrete steps to move forward, just saying that " we are interested in new ideas because what has happened up until now has not worked."