U.S. denounces Israeli ban on Palestinian contact

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki

Washington on Wednesday denounced an order from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to limit his cabinet’s contacts with their Palestinian counterparts as “unfortunate,” Agence France-Presse reported.

“We are certainly aware of the announcement. We regard it as unfortunate,” AFP quoted State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki as saying, as her boss John Kerry met with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Netanyahu ordered ministers to limit contact with their Palestinian counterparts in response to “the Palestinian violation of their commitments under peace talks,” an Israeli official told AFP.

But Psaki shot back: “We believe that cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has provided benefits to both sides.”

“We continue to urge both sides to take steps that contribute to a conducive environment for peace.”

Secretary of State Kerry met with Lieberman at the State Department as on the ground U.S. negotiators seek to rescue the fragile Israeli-Palestinian peace talks which ran into a stalemate last week…