Rice pushes for peace progress; Israel denies hidden agenda

.JERUSALEM (AP) – Facing mounting Palestinian frustration at the pace of peace talks, the United States leaned on Israel on Sunday to lift restrictions that chafe West Bank residents and stifle an already limping economy. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice did not directly criticize close U.S. ally Israel, but had unusually direct remarks about the consequences of Israeli housing and roadblocks in the West Bank. Palestinian claims that Israel is deliberately expanding Jewish settlements on land the Palestinians claim for a state have dampened the high hopes for a peace deal before President Bush leaves office next year.