Mideast peace talks so far 'futile'

Middle East peace talks have so far proved "futile," a senior Palestinian official said on Wednesday, calling for greater US participation in talks.

"Until now there has been no progress," the Palestine Liberation Organisation's Yasser Abed Rabbo told Voice of Palestine radio, after several weeks of meetings between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.

"Despite our decision to take part in talks, we're now seeing what we expected -- that there is little hope for their progress, in fact that hope is non-existent and negotiations are futile," he said.

Abed Rabbo's comments echoed those of another senior official who said on Monday that after several rounds of US-brokered talks there had been "no breakthrough."

"Saving this political process not only (requires) promises of more US meetings with the sides, but also a clear US stance and pressure on Israel," Abed Rabbo warned.

Palestinian officials have complained about the lack of direct American involvement in the talks, which began last month after intense efforts by US Secretary of State John Kerry to bring both sides to the table.

But ahead of the first bilateral meetings in Jerusalem on August 14, Israel announced plans to build more than 2,000 Jewish settler homes on Palestinian territory, in a move that angered Palestinian negotiators.

The last direct negotiations broke down in September 2010 weeks after they had started over the settlements issue.

"Israel hasn't committed to halting settlement building. We've seen the continuation of settlement building, which is destroying any chance for this political process," Abed Rabbo said.

"Either this occupation and all settlement building ceases, or the process is doomed to failure and collapse."

The talks have been held under a US-imposed media blackout, with no official announcements of when or where they are to take place.

"The number and dates of talks are not important. I'm not following exactly when the meetings have taken place, and this is not what we're interested in," Abed Rabbo said.

"The fundamental issue is that until now there are no indications these talks have achieved any progress whatsoever."