WASHINGTON — A former NATO commander has been asked to act as a United States' liaison between Israel and the Palestinians as they try to negotiate complicated arrangements necessary to reach a final peace accord, diplomats and Palestinian officials said Wednesday.

Retired Gen. James Jones of the U.S. Marine Corps was the alliance's top commander in Europe. It was not immediately clear whether he had accepted the offer.

The diplomats and officials spoke on condition of anonymity because there has been no official announcement.

The United States pledged Tuesday at an international peace conference on the Mideast held in Annapolis, Md., to hold both sides to account if they do not carry out obligations.

The recently revived U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan quickly foundered after it was presented in 2003 because the Palestinians did not rein in militant groups and Israel did not freeze all construction in West Bank settlements, as it had pledged to do.

Bringing Jones in to closely follow the process is designed to assure that newly resumed peace talks don't languish because promises are broken.

At Annapolis, Israeli and Palestinian leaders formally announced their intention to resume peace talks after seven years of violence. A ceremonial inauguration of the process is to be held at the White House later Wednesday.