United States President Barack Obama says it is "more important than ever" to find a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, given the recent developments in the Arab world.
In a White House question and answer session with his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres on Tuesday, Obama highlighted the latest developments in the Middle East, saying reaching peace in the region is important, AFP reports.
“With the winds of change blowing through the Arab world, it is more important than ever to create a peaceful solution between the Palestinians and the Israelis," the US president said.
This was a moment of "challenge and opportunity," the US chief executive said.
During the session, Obama told reporters that he had had an “extensive discussion” with Peres about the recent developments in the Middle East.
Peres, for his part, touched upon the fast-moving events in the Middle East and reiterated the importance of direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Earlier in the day, the two leaders held talks in a closed-door meeting in the Oval Office, had lunch together, and were later joined by other officials from both the US and Israel.
The meeting at the Oval Office comes one day after Israel approved the construction of nearly 1,000 new settlement units in Gilo, in southwestern al-Quds (Jerusalem), which Obama has described as “illegal.”
In the coming September, Palestinians are expected to bring up the issue of an independent state at the United Nations General Assembly. This could put increased pressure on Israelis to stop building new settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Israel occupied the West Bank, including East al-Quds (Jerusalem), the Golan Heights in Syria, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, and the Gaza Strip during the Six-Day War of 1967.