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Obama meets Abbas in bid to save US peace drive
Published Monday 17/03/2014 (updated) 19/03/2014 09:55
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A Palestinian youth holds his national flag as the sun sets during
clashes with Israeli security forces in the West Bank village of
Silwad, north of Ramallah, on January 24, 2014 following a
protest over the expansion of Israeli settlements
(AFP/File Abbas Momani)
WASHINGTON (AFP) -- President Barack Obama will meet President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday, seeking to keep a US peace drive alive two weeks after also piling pressure on Israel to agree to extend talks.

Obama will meet Abbas after telling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that tough decisions are looming ahead of an end of April deadline to agree on a framework for future negotiations.

But so far, Washington seems keener to prolong the initiative than Israel or the Palestinians, as a blame game rages that appears more a preparation for a breakdown of talks than cultivating the political ground for future concessions.

Obama told Netanyahu when they met at the White House on March 3 that the peace framework cannot be simply a deal agreed by Israel and the United States and then presented to the Palestinians as a take-it-or-leave-it offer.

But officials also privately say that the Palestinians will be required to make concessions on issues like the return of refugees and borders if they are to secure a state at long last.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama's message to Abbas will be consistent with the one he gave to the Israelis.

"He will commend president Abbas, as he did Prime Minister Netanyahu, on the tough decisions that each leader has made thus far in an effort to move the process forward," Carney said.

"He will speak of the need to establish a framework for negotiations going forward and the need -- as that takes place, for additional tough decisions to be taken.

"We hope that we will see progress."

Abbas said last week that he could not yet assess the "framework" because he had not seen it -- during the seven-month long peace drive that has reportedly yielded no agreements on key issues.

"When the framework is presented to us, we'll give our opinion on it," Abbas said on Thursday.

"We have never discussed prolonging the negotiations at all, nor was it offered to us."

Abbas met Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday ahead of the talks with Obama, who spent the weekend being briefed by his top officials on a more pressing foreign policy crisis, the showdown with Russia over Crimea.

A senior State Department official said the Kerry-Abbas meeting was "frank and productive."

"We are at a pivotal time in the negotiations and while these issues have decades of history behind them, neither party should let tough political decisions at this stage stand in the way of a lasting peace," the official added.

The most nettlesome issues in the peace process include the borders of a future Palestinian state, the fate of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees, Israeli settlements, security and mutual recognition.

The Palestinians want borders based on the lines that preceded the Six-Day War in 1967, when Israel captured and occupied the West Bank, including now-annexed East Jerusalem.

They have also insisted there should be no Israeli troops in their future state.

But Israel wants to retain existing illegal settlements it has built inside occupied Palestinian territory over the past decades. It also wants to maintain a military presence in the Jordan Valley, where the West Bank borders Jordan.

John Kerry is 'wrong'

Ahead of Monday's talks, several senior Israeli figures heavily criticized the Palestinians, and Kerry, as a row raged over whether Israel should be recognized as a "Jewish" state in return for Palestinian statehood.

Current Palestinian leaders have opposed such recognition, fearing it could threaten the rights of non-Jewish Arabs living in Israel, who make up 20 percent of the population, as well as other religious minorities.

Israeli Environment Minister Gilad Erdan said that Kerry was "wrong because he is putting pressure on the wrong side."

"Kerry should be asking Abu Mazen (Abbas) why he is stubbornly refusing to recognize Israel as the Jewish state," he told public radio.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said over the weekend that Abbas was "not a partner for a final peace deal."

The United States has been making the case to both Israel and the Palestinians that if a deal is not agreed soon, the opportunity for a Palestinian state and a permanent peace could fade forever.

"If not now, when? And if not you, Mr Prime Minister, then who?" Obama said, paraphrasing his appeal to Netanyahu in an interview with Bloomberg View columnist Jeffrey Goldberg earlier this month.
1 ) falastiny / Falasteen
17/03/2014 12:43
maan has today proven without a shadow of a doubt that it is the mouthpiece of abbas. This site is as independent as israel is peaceful!!! not one single word on the interview yesterday with dahlan!!! what, you want to hide the sun ya maan?? afraid you wont get your check at the end of the month?? i am sure you will report on the paid so-called protests in support of abbas. independent my as..!!!

2 ) Johnny benson / USA
17/03/2014 16:45
Hey...lets cut maan some slack...t hey are as independent as any news service can be in this time and place....heck ..we're talking about an Arab country for pets sake..f act is maan is better then most corporate owned news shops in America...who dance to their megabillionaires whims and desires...better then the New York Times for example..and msnbc or fox....

3 ) Islam does not want Jewish / filth on its SACRED LAND
17/03/2014 17:02
AND WILL NOT recognize Isreael as the rightful homeland of the JEWS therefore all talk about "peace" is bogus.

4 ) ABE / USA
17/03/2014 18:06
To #3 And ISRAEL will never let ISLAMIC SCUM like you have ANYTHING! Enjoy your tent in the desert.

5 ) Lynx / Palestine
17/03/2014 18:55
# 1 Sure nothing new. This site is a totally numb website for Abbas sycophants and Fatah and Oslo apologists. I've also noticed they've censored posts which criticise the disaster known as the Oslo Accords. GUESS WHO BROUGHT US OSLO? Who else? ABBAS. The failure of Oslo and Abbas is also the fault of Palestinians everywhere who to this day keep silent in the face of the Abbas mafia.

6 ) Falastiny / Falasteen
17/03/2014 19:36
#2) if you were living here, you would know what I'm talking about. maan ignores all protests here against the PA, ignores many violations committed by Israel and security coordination with PA, ignores many issues related to PA such as corruption, arrest of Palestinian activists, almost nightly attacks on refugee camps to silence residents. It works as PA media office with its lousy reports. ask any Palestinian and he/she will tell wy how maan is percieved here in Palestine! Independent my as...

7 ) @ Islam-3 / Truth Is Welcome
18/03/2014 01:46
Obama should realize Two Things: -1- Abbas wants only statehood, and only on the 1967 lines, that Jordan (not "Palestine") lost, and as part of that statehood, he further plans the destruction of Israel, instead of Peace with it, and -2- Israeli leaders understand these Fatah and Hamas intentions to destroy the state of Israel, so Israeli leaders will never consider returning the 1949 Armistice Lines, which today Arabs like to call "1967 borders".

8 ) Tobias / USA
18/03/2014 03:26
1- Palestine says that "Israel Must Choose Settlements or Peace", and 2- Israel's silence says that "Palestine Must Choose Compromise or continued Stateless-Occupation", since 3- Israel will prosper while "choosing settlements (& security) over peace", but Palestine will stagnate and fail choosing statelessness over compromise !!!
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