RAMALLAH, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators held a new round of talks two days before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's return to the region slated for Wednesday, a well-informed Palestinian source said on Tuesday.
The source told Xinhua that chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni held another round of direct talks without achieving any progress due to the sticky question of Israeli settlement.
"Member of the Palestinian negotiation team Mohamed Eshtaye refrained from attending the meeting because he insists on resigning from his job," said the source, adding "the question of Israeli settlement building always obstruct any progress in the talks."
On Wednesday, Kerry will arrive in Israel for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the Iran nuclear issue and the Middle East peace process, according to Israeli Radio,
Kerry afterwards will meet Palestinian President Abbas and Palestinian negotiators in the West Bank city of Ramallah to discuss the difficulties that the ongoing peace talks face.
So far, more than 20 rounds of talks have already been held between the two sides since they were resumed in late July after a three-year halt. However, the talks have failed to achieve any substantial progress.
According to the source, in the last round of negotiations in Jerusalem, the Palestinian negotiators expressed anger toward Israel's renewed policy of expanding its settlement in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Since the talks restarted, the Israeli government has approved the construction of six thousand units and demolished more than 129 Palestinian houses.
Meanwhile, Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official in Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said on Tuesday that the Israeli measures on the ground are putting these talks in peril.
Speaking in an interview with Voice of Palestine, Ashrawi said that unilateral Israeli measures brought peace talks to "a dangerous impasse," adding "Israel replaced the two-state solution with the large-Israel solution by expanding settlements in Palestinian territories."
She said that the gap between the two sides was "very wide," and that Kerry's upcoming visit "is not expected to bring in anything new." "There is no middle ground in the positions between the Palestinian side that seeks an independent state and the Israeli side that acts away from the international law," Ashrawi said.
The negotiations, whose resumption was brokered by Kerry, are supposed to last nine months. They are expected to tackle several outstanding final-status issues. However, the Palestinians say that Israel focuses only on security issues and keeps expanding its settlements, making a future Palestinian state geographically non-contiguous. Ashrawi said that the Palestinians will resume their bids to join international organizations as soon as the nine months expire.