US President Barack Obama is going to hold talks with Israel’s Prime Minister and the acting Palestinian Authority Chief in an attempt to revive the stalled peace talks in the Middle East.
The meeting would take place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly later this month. Obama will meet Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas separately before convening a joint session with them.
The US Special Envoy for Middle East George Mitchell described the move as another sign of Obama’s commitment to comprehensive peace.
Obama has described the renewal of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks as a major goal of his presidency. The US President’s willingness to revive the so-called Middle East road map and his emphasis on meeting obligations is regarded as ‘an important litmus test of fairness and balance’ for him.
Tel Aviv is currently under pressure from the Obama administration to halt illegal settlement constructions in the West Bank. Washington regards Israeli settlements as a hurdle in the way of comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Under the 2002 Roadmap plan brokered by the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia, Israel has to ‘dismantle settlement outposts erected since 2001 and freeze all settlement activity’.
More than 285,000 Israelis currently live in the settlements, considered by the international community as having been illegally constructed. The settlements are erected on occupied lands that the Palestinians claim for a future state.