WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama on Monday told Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas that both he and Israeli leaders must make tough political decisions and take “risks” for peace.
Meeting Obama at the White House, Abbas said a scheduled Israeli release of a fourth tranche of Palestinian prisoners by March 29 would show how serious Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was about extending peace talks.
“As I said to Prime Minister Netanyahu when he was here just a few weeks ago, I believe that now is the time …. to embrace this opportunity,” Obama said as he met Abbas in the Oval Office.
“It is very hard, very challenging. We are going to have to take some tough political decisions and risks if we able to move forward,” Obama said.
The US leader was seeking to secure Abbas’s agreement on a US framework to extend peace talks, which have so far lasted seven months but not made tangible progress, past an end-of April deadline.
He said that everyone already understood the shape of an “elusive” peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, saying it would be based on 1967 lines with mutual land swaps.
Abbas did not directly address the Israeli government’s demand for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a “Jewish” state.