President Barack Obama has urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to take political risks in the search for peace with Israel.
His comments in Washington follow similar remarks to the Israeli premier two weeks ago.
By an April deadline the US hopes both sides will have agreed a “framework” to extend negotiations.
The Palestinian leader responded saying that part of the reason as to why he was prepared to consider returning to the negotiating table was an agreement by which Israel will release a fourth batch of prisoners by March 29. Abbas expressed hopes that this would happen, “as it would give a solid impression about Israel’s efforts to achieve peace”.
Back in the Palestinian West Bank thousands came out to show their support for Abbas. He’s under pressure from domestic critics who accuse him of giving in too easily to Israeli demands.
Continued Israeli settlement building and a Palestinian refusal to recognise Israel as a Jewish state remain the main obstacles to peace.