Tags: israel settlements obama

Obama Asks Israel to Extend Settlement Moratorium

Saturday, 11 September 2010 01:13 PM

WASHINGTON — President Obama called for Israel to extend its moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank as a good-will gesture to move peace talks with the Palestinians forward, The New York Times reports.

During a wide-ranging news conference at the White House on Friday, Mr. Obama said that while the politics of extending the moratorium would be difficult for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, given his conservative government coalition, he had nonetheless asked Mr. Netanyahu to extend it when they met recently in Washington.

“What I’ve said to Prime Minister Netanyahu is that given, so far, the talks are moving forward in a constructive way, it makes sense to extend that moratorium,” Mr. Obama said, in remarks that took some administration officials by surprise.

Mr. Obama said he had also told Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, that he, too, had to make gestures to Israel to keep the peace talks going. The negotiations began last week in Washington.

“You’ve got to show the Israeli public that you are serious and constructive in these talks so that the politics for Prime Minister Netanyahu, if he were to extend the settlements moratorium, would be a little bit easier,” Mr. Obama said he had told Mr. Abbas.

Mr. Obama’s remarks on Friday were significant because the settlement construction moratorium, which is scheduled to expire Sept. 26, is looming as the first hurdle in the nascent peace talks. His comments surprised some administration officials because of a customary concern that the United States not appear to be pushing Israel.

Read the entire story at nytimes.com

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Saturday, 11 September 2010 01:13 PM
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