The Obama administration has effectively abandoned a demand that Israel freeze settlement expansion before the resumption of peace talks. President Obama signaled the shift on Tuesday as he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Obama urged both sides to “move forward” and enter final-status talks.
President Obama: “Despite all the obstacles, despite all the history, despite all the mistrust, we have to find a way forward. We have to summon the will to break the deadlock that has trapped generations of Israelis and Palestinians in an endless cycle of conflict and suffering. We cannot continue the same pattern of taking tentative steps forward and then stepping back. Success depends on all sides acting with a sense of urgency.”
Israel has refused to abide by its Road Map obligations to halt the expansion of existing settlements in the occupied West Bank. Obama says the final status talks should begin immediately and focus on dealing with the conflict’s core issues.