Obama admits that settlements are an obstacle to peace talks
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas (R) and U.S. President Barack Obama shake hands following a joint press conference at the Muqata, the Palestinian Authority headquarters, in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Thursday. (AFP PHOTO/SAUL LOEB)
U.S. President Barack Obama called for Israel and Palestine to resume peace negotiations but acknowledged that settlements were an obstacle to talks, Al Jazeera reported on Thursday.
Speaking in Ramallah, the de-facto capital of the West Bank, while on his tour of the region, Obama said he remained committed to a two-state-solution.
However, he did admit that living under occupation came with its own set of problems for ordinary Palestinians.
His statements came as news emerged of President Abbas's draft talking points, which included an agreement to re-start peace talks without the need for a public announcement from Israel that they would stop settlement building.
After Israel announced their latest settlement plans for East Jerusalem and the West Bank in December last year, the Palestinian PM threatened to hand over control of the occupied territories to Israel. According to the latest documents, this stance has not changed:
“I am not threatening, I am sharing a fact with you,” the talking points read, adding, “If this situation continues I will be forced to ask Prime Minister Netenyahoo to resume his responsibilities.”
However, Yasser Abed-Rabbo, aide to Abbas, said on Thursday that Palestine would need a settlement freeze before coming back to the table.
Meanwhile a few dozen Palestinians in Ramallah protested the U.S. president's visit, claiming that he was biased towards the Israelis.