Jerusalem: Israel`s chief negotiator called on Saturday for direct talks with the Palestinians, as attempts continue to prevent the collapse of peace negotiations.
Tzipi Livni`s remarks came on the eve of a three-way meeting with her Palestinian counterpart Saeb Erakat and US envoy Martin Indyk, officials close to the talks said. Indyk met the two separately yesterday.
The developments come as US Secretary of State John Kerry said yesterday that there were "limits" to the time and energy Washington could devote to the process, adding it was time for a "reality check."
He said Washington would review its push for a peace deal after a spiral of tit-for-tat moves by Israel and the Palestinians took the hard-won negotiations close to collapse.
The top US diplomat received the backing of European foreign ministers, who on Saturday said they fully supported his efforts.
"We support the efforts of Secretary of State Kerry," EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said at the close of a two-day meeting in Athens.
Kerry, who has engaged in more than a year of vigorous shuttle diplomacy, had spoken to both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Thursday in a bid to bring the two sides back from the brink.
But Livni told Channel 2 television that the "intensive" US involvement in the talks might have got in between the actual sides in conflict.
The Americans should remain involved but "as those who help negotiations and bilateral talks, rather than as their replacement," she said.
"I think we need to advance to more meetings and direct negotiations than there were till now, I think the Americans realise this as well," she said.
"We need bilateral meetings between us, including between the prime minister (Benjamin Netanyahu) and (Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas) Abu Mazen," she said.
Abbas rejected Kerry`s appeals to withdraw applications he signed Tuesday to adhere to 15 international treaties, a Palestinian official said.