RAMALLAH, West Bank - Palestinians believe the U.S. effort to restart peace talks is doomed, and they're preparing instead to resume their campaign of seeking membership in key international organizations as soon as next month, officials said Wednesday.
As Secretary of State John Kerry arrives on another peace mission, Israel and the Palestinians appear to be as divided as ever over the issue of Israeli settlement-building. Without major U.S. pressure on Israel, Palestinians believe the outlook seems bleak.
Kerry's arrival Thursday is the latest in a series of meetings with Israelis and Palestinians over the last two months.
While Palestinians praised Kerry's efforts, they said there has been little progress ahead of what they believe to be a June 7 deadline and said they are beginning work on a "day-after" strategy.
"We don't have unrealistic expectations," said Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official. "If it doesn't work, of course we have our own plans."
Peace talks broke down in 2008 and have remained stalled since, in large part due to disputes on Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The Palestinians claim both areas, as well as the Gaza Strip, for their future state, and say there is no point in negotiating while Israel continues to build Jewish settlements. More than 500,000 Israelis now live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Palestinians say that makes it increasingly difficult to share the land with Israel. Israel captured all three territories in 1967, though it withdrew from Gaza in 2005, dismantling its 21 settlements there.
The Palestinians have demanded Israel freeze settlement construction and accept the pre-1967 lines as the basis of a border.
While previous Israeli leaders have used the 1967 lines as a starting point for talks that failed to produce a deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin says talks should begin with no preconditions.
When President Obama took office in 2009, he took a tough line against the settlements and prodded Israel into a partial construction freeze. A short-lived round of negotiations quickly collapsed, and Israel refused to extend the freeze.