As US Secretary of State John Kerry attempted to get peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians back on track, a senior Fatah official blasted the United States, calling it a greater obstacle to peace than Israel.

Azzam Al-Ahmad, who heads Fatah’s parliamentary bloc, told Sky News Arabia on Sunday that Kerry’s recent three-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories had exposed the American administration’s “biased role” toward the negotiating sides.

“The problem of peace in the Middle East is the American administration more than Israel,” Ahmad said, adding that Kerry “brings nothing new in his pocket, not even a small step, especially with regards to the settlements or an [Israeli] commitment to the two-state solution.”

Kerry left the region on Sunday after reportedly having wrung assent from Netanyahu on a partial settlement freeze and the release of some 60 Palestinian prisoners. According to the Israeli daily Maariv, he also succeeded in convincing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to relinquish his demand for a complete Israeli settlement freeze.

But chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat lowered expectations upon Kerry’s departure, saying in a press conference that despite “deep and positive talks,” no breakthrough was attained in a bid to bring the sides together.

The somber mood expressed by the Palestinian leadership on the prospect of renewed negotiations was also reflected in Monday’s newspaper editorials.

“The United States and Secretary Kerry realize how far the Palestinian and Israeli positions are from each other, and how sensitive raising the issue of settlements is for Israel,” wrote columnist Samih Shabib in the PA official daily Al-Ayyam Monday. “This makes Kerry’s diplomatic efforts all the more cautious.”

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