"Good progress" towards Middle East peace talks

US and Israel issue joint statement on attempts to resume talks between Israeli and Palestinian lead

Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and US special envoy, George Mitchell, have issued a joint statement saying plans to restart talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders are showing 'good progress'.

Netanyahu flew to London on Monday to meet with President Obama's representative. After meeting yesterday, both men were positive that talks could resume by the end of next month.

During talks, Mitchell insisted that Israel meet its obligations to freeze settlement on the West Bank. However, Netanyahu argues that a certain level of building must continue to ensure those who have already settled in the region can carry on with a "normal life".

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said yesterday that Israel was obliged to "stop all forms of settlement construction and to be committed to resolve all final-status issues, especially Jerusalem, refugees, borders, water, security and other core issues." This must be achieved, he said, before any talks with Palestinians could be resumed.

Abbas said: "The settlement expansions mainly aim at tearing down the geographical unity of the West Bank and preventing the creation of a connected Palestinian statehood within the 1967 borders."

He also said the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) rejects any offers of temporary solutions such as a statehood with provisional boundaries, saying: "The statehood has to be built on the soil of our home and we will not accept any alternative project."

Netanyahu flew to Germany today where he is to meet German PM Angela Merkel. Merkel is also expected to push Netanyahu towards a settlement freeze.

Talks between US and Israeli representatives will continue over the coming weeks with the hope of resuming direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations by the UN general assembly meeting, taking place on 23 September.