Israel allowed a politically charged freeze on Jewish settlement building in the West Bank to expire on Sunday, but the Palestinians did not carry out a threat to quit peace negotiations, setting the stage for further frantic efforts to keep the talks alive.
For President Obama, who had publicly called on Israel to extend the freeze, the Israeli decision was another setback in what has been a tortuous effort to help resolve one of the world’s most intractable conflicts.
American officials spent Sunday desperately seeking a formula to satisfy both sides — an effort that failed to produce a compromise from the Israelis but that may have helped persuade the Palestinians to delay a decision on abandoning the talks until the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, consults with Arab leaders in coming days.
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