ALRAY, AFP - US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived on his second Middle East trip in less than a week Thursday in yet another bid to promote a so far elusive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
He went straight to Ramallah in the occupied West Bank for a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas, slightly later than scheduled because of a winter storm sweeping the region.
On Friday, Kerry is to meet Israeli occupation prime minister and president before continuing on to Jordan.
US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said earlier this week Washington's aim was "focused on a final deal" rather than an interim agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Nine-month direct talks were launched between the sides by Kerry in July, and last week he said "we are closer than we have been in years" to reaching a deal.
However, the Palestinian Authority said Kerry's ideas on future security arrangements, which were presented to the Palestinian leadership last week, had provoked a "real crisis".
On Monday, Kerry met Israeli chief negotiator Tzipi Livni and her Palestinian counterpart Saeb Erakat in Washington for three-hour trilateral talks.
But on Thursday, Livni accused a key Israeli coalition partner of deliberately seeking to sabotage the talks by ramping up settlement construction.
Speaking just hours before Kerry's arrival, Livni accused the far-right national religious Jewish Home of deliberately promoting settlement projects in a bid "to derail" the negotiations.
"More building, more announcements of building in isolated settlements are meant to prevent us reaching peace," she told an audience at a university in remarks broadcast on public radio.
"That is their deliberate intention, to derail the negotiations. To cause the other side to walk out of the room," she said.