Prophecy in today's headlines

Obama Nudges Israel On Palestinian Statehood

U.S. President Barack Obama nudged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday to accept the goal of a Palestinian state, as he pressed Israel and the Palestinians to “step back from the abyss.”

Deepening his direct role in reviving stalled peace efforts, Obama met Jordan’s King Abdullah and invited Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for separate talks by early June.

He seized the chance to reassure Abdullah of his commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict despite reluctance by Netanyahu’s new right-leaning government to support eventual Palestinian statehood.

Obama reasserted his pledge to “deeply engage” in Arab-Israeli peace diplomacy — in contrast to a more hands-off approach by his predecessor George W. Bush — and predicted good-faith gestures from both sides in coming months.

“What we have to do is step back from the abyss,” Obama told reporters after meeting Abdullah, a key Arab ally, at the White House.

But Obama’s Middle East strategy has been complicated by the emergence of a coalition led by Netanyahu, who since coming to power last month has avoided recognizing the Palestinians’ right to an independent state, as his predecessor Ehud Olmert did.

Obama took care not to confront Netanyahu head-on but made clear his administration hoped to coax him into accepting the principle of a two-state solution, which has been the basis of U.S. policy for years.

“They are going to have to formulate and, I think, solidify their position,” Obama said of Israel’s new government.


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