WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State
Appearing before the
"Seven hundred settlement units were announced in Jerusalem and, poof, that was sort of the moment," Kerry said.
With the talks seemingly at an impasse, Kerry announced Friday that he and President
The announcement on the housing units came as the Palestinians were refusing to agree to continue the peace talks.
Four days earlier, Israel had decided to delay the planned release of 26 Palestinian prisoners because of the Palestinians' refusal to commit to continuing negotiations.
Even so, Kerry insisted that the peace effort was not dead. He said Israelis and Palestinians had not halted all communications and that the U.S. stood ready to continue its role as broker if the parties could overcome the dispute over the prisoner release.
"My hope is the parties will find a way back," Kerry said. "We're working with them to try to do so."
He said that even if the parties didn't resume talks, his effort had been worthwhile because the secret discussions had yielded agreement on several points.
"There has been a narrowing of differences," he said.