US-Israeli talks aimed at healing a recent rift between the two sides have ended with no sign of a breakthrough.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu left Washington after two days of meetings aimed at getting peace talks with Palestinians back on track.

He said some progress had been made, but no agreement was mentioned by either Mr Netanyahu of the White House.

The US and Israel have been at odds over Israel’s plans to build homes in occupied East Jerusalem.

Mr Netanyahu’s visit came amid the worst crisis in US-Israeli ties for decades.

Extended visit

“We think we have found a golden way that would allow the Americans to move the peace process forward while preserving our national interests,” Mr Netanyahu said before boarding a plane to fly back to Israel on Thursday.

The White House made no public comments following the talks.

Earlier on Wednesday White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that President Barack Obama had held “honest” talks with Mr Netanyahu, urging him to take steps to build confidence in the peace process.

Mr Gibbs added that the US was seeking “clarification” about the latest plans to build homes in occupied East Jerusalem.

Mr Netanyahu had twice extended his visit in Washington to try to find a compromise.

The Israeli leader – who originally planned to leave Washington on Tuesday – stayed on for another full day to meet US Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell.

Mr Mitchell had returned to the US following a meeting in the West Bank with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The White House was reportedly seeking to persuade Mr Netanyahu to commit to several trust-building measures to revive hopes for indirect “proximity talks” between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Palestinians pulled out of moves towards talks two weeks ago, after Israel unveiled plans to build 1,600 homes in the East Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo.

The project was approved during a visit by US Vice-President Joe Biden – a move which Washington branded an insult.

Minutes before Mr Netanyahu’s fence-mending visit to the White House on Tuesday, it emerged the Jerusalem municipal government had approved another development.

Twenty apartments are to be built for Jewish settlers on the site of an old hotel in the predominantly Arab neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

Mr Gibbs told reporters on Wednesday there were areas of agreement and disagreement between the sides, following the two meetings in Washington, one of which was unscheduled.

“The president has asked the prime minister for certain things to build confidence up to proximity talks that we think can make progress,” Mr Gibbs said.

He reiterated the American position that there was an “unbreakable bond” between the US and the Israeli people.

The Israelis said there had been a “good atmosphere” during Tuesday’s talks.

But the BBC’s Kim Ghattas in Washington notes Mr Netanyahu did not get the reception usually reserved for America’s allies.

There was no press conference, no lavish welcome, and the White House did not even release a picture of the meeting.

It all signals that the US is playing tough, making clear it is upset with the Israeli government, says our correspondent.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem for their future capital, but Israel insists the city cannot be divided.

Nearly half a million Jews live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

They are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

Source: BBC


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