JERUSALEM — The United States praised Israelis and Palestinians for pledging modest steps to create a positive atmosphere for their first peace contacts in more than a year, after the initial round of indirect talks ended yesterday.
George Mitchell, President Obama’s Mideast envoy, left for home yesterday after multiple meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders over the course of a week to get the indirect talks underway.
Resumption of the peace talks amounts to the first achievement here for the Obama administration.
In Washington, Philip Crowley, State Department spokesman, said the talks were “serious and wide-ranging,’’ and both sides offered initial steps to help things along: Israel said there would be no more construction in a housing project in disputed East Jerusalem, and the Palestinians said they would try to prevent groups from attempting to discourage the talks by attacks or incitement.
Over the next four months, Mitchell will make the less-than-10-mile trip between the offices of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, to try to narrow vast differences over the terms of Palestinian independence.
Crowley said in a statement that Mitchell will return in a week for another round of shuttle diplomacy.
He said Mitchell told both sides that progress is important so that they can move to direct negotiations about the creation of a Palestinian state.