By Justin Sink - 05/12/14 04:09 PM EDT
Secretary of State John Kerry is set to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Thursday in London, the first time the two have sat down since the implosion of the U.S.-brokered peace talks late last month.
"While the door remains open to a peace process, the purpose of the meeting is to discuss our ongoing relationship with the Palestinians," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement Monday. "As he has throughout the process, Secretary Kerry will reiterate a call he has made to both sides to maintain restraint and refrain from steps that would be unhelpful."
But hopes for a resumption of peace talks — Kerry's signature initiative since taking the helm in Foggy Bottom — appear slim.
In March, Israel announced that it would not release a final batch of prisoners it had agreed to free as a precondition to the peace talks, saying Abbas had refused to commit to negotiations beyond the April 29 deadline set by the United States. Israel also announced thousands of new construction projects in disputed territory in the West Bank.
Abbas, in turn, sought membership for Palestine in a number of international treaties — a step he had pledged to avoid as a precondition to talks. Abbas also announced a reconciliation agreement with Hamas, which Israel and the U.S. have condemned as a terrorist organization.
In April, the White House said it continued to seek a two-state solution despite the complications.
"That is the best outcome, in our view, for not just the Palestinian people but the Israeli people and the Israeli state," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.