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Friday, May 29, 2009

Obama Meets Abbas, Israel On Edge Over Settlements

Now let's see what happens
Clinton said Obama told Netanyahu last week when the two met at the White House that the U.S. sees stopping settlements as key to a peace deal that would see a Palestinian state created alongside Israel.
"He wants to see a stop to settlements - not some settlements, not outposts, not 'natural growth' exceptions," Clinton said. "We think it is in the best interests (of the peace process) that settlement expansion cease. That is our position. That is what we have communicated very clearly. ... And we intend to press that point."
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Gingerly trying to advance Mideast peace, President Barack Obama declared on Thursday the U.S. is a "stalwart ally" of Israel but challenged the Israelis to stop settlement construction in the disputed West Bank to help advance the long and painful road to peace with the Palestinians.
Obama's message came on the same day that Israel refused a demand to freeze all construction in the West Bank, land the Palestinians hope to claim for a future nation of their own. The president stuck to a hopeful tone, saying he had pressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the matter only last week."I think it's important not to assume the worst, but to assume the best," Obama said in the Oval Office, sitting alongside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Obama said Netanyahu needed time to work on the issue back home, and the U.S. president said he was not willing to base his decisions on a week-old conversation.
Obama and Abbas met privately before being joined by their delegations.
The U.S. president made clear he expected commitments to be upheld by the Palestinians, too, including enhanced security in the West Bank so that Israelis have confidence they're safe there. Obama said he asked Abbas to reduce anti-Israeli sentiments that can be easily stoked in schools, mosques and the public square.
Said Abbas: "We are fully committed to all of our obligations." LinkHere


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