Obama to press Netanyahu on peace talks

McClatchy Washington BureauMarch 2, 2014 

Obama US Israel

This Sept. 30, 2013 file photo shows President Barack Obama meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. Netanyahu plans to visit President Barack Obama next month amid tension between the allies on diplomatic matters. The White House announced the March 3 visit on Wednesday and said the two leaders would discuss Mideast peace efforts, Iran's nuclear program and other regional issues.


President Obama says in an interview published ahead of his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he fears time is running out on an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

"The situation will not improve or resolve itself," Obama said in the interview with BloombergView. "This is not a situation where you wait and the problem goes away. There are going to be more Palestinians, not fewer Palestinians, as time goes on. There are going to be more Arab-Israelis, not fewer Arab-Israelis, as time goes on."

He said he'd ask Netanyahu to "seize the moment in a way that perhaps only he can, precisely because of the political tradition that he comes out of and the credibility he has with the right inside of Israel, for him to seize this moment is perhaps the greatest gift he could give to future generations of Israelis."

Obama said he's mostly been quiet on the talks to allow his Secretary of State to engage "in some of the most vigorous, active diplomacy that we’ve seen on this issue in many years.

"John is not doing that by accident," Obama said. "He’s doing it because as an administration we think that it is in the interest of the Israelis and the Palestinians, but also in the interest of the United States and the world to arrive at a framework for negotiations that can actually bring about a two-state solution that provides Israel the security it needs -- peace with its neighbors -- at a time when the neighborhood has gotten more volatile, and gives Palestinians the dignity of a state."

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