(Reuters) - Israel blamed the Palestinians Sunday for rejecting a call to hold face-to-face peace talks when representatives of Middle East power brokers visit the region later this week.
Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Israel had renewed an offer to hold direct talks with the Palestinians ahead of Wednesday's visit by envoys of the so-called Quartet of the European Union, United States, Russia and the United Nations.
Regev said Israel had urged that the coming Quartet visit be accompanied by a direct meeting of Israelis and Palestinians. But he said Israel has learned that senior Palestinian official and veteran negotiator Saeb Erekat "has refused."
"We are disappointed," Regev said in remarks by telephone, calling it "frustrating that the Palestinian side repeatedly refuses to engage in peace talks directly with Israel."