AP | MSNBC | 11/14/2010 | 5:03:09 PM ET
President Barack Obama on Sunday hailed the prospect of a new settlement freeze in the disputed West Bank as a promising step toward peace, urging Israelis and Palestinians to get back into serious negotiations quickly. An upbeat president also pledged to return to the basic principles that drove his thinking when he first came to the White House, including sticking to a more bipartisan tone and better explaining his decisions to the American people.
He spoke of moving from an "obsessive focus" on policy and making changes to his approach after a humbling midterm election. "The fact that we are out of crisis — although still obviously in a difficult time — I think will give me the capacity," Obama told reporters aboard Air Force One at the end of long Asia trip.
On the Mideast, Washington’s new proposal for reviving peace talks includes a 90-day ban on housing starts in West Bank settlements — but not in east Jerusalem, the Palestinians’ hoped-for capital. The goal is to give the two sides a three-month period to shape borders of side-by-side states, a daunting, elusive mission. Obama commended Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for making a "very constructive step" toward creating an environment for peace. "I think it’s a signal that he’s serious," Obama said.
U.S. officials said Netanyahu told the administration that he supports the plan and will try to win approval from his Cabinet. Obama said he hopes the Israeli leader and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will resume negotiations soon. A previous 10-month moratorium in the West Bank expired Sept. 26, and talks have stalled, casting doubt about the notion of a peace deal within a year’s time, as Obama has sought. Just a few days ago, during a stop in Indonesia, Obama acknowledged he was worried about the peace process and urged both sides to show more effort.
Looking rested after two legs of an all-night flight from Asia, Obama on Sunday made an unannounced visit to the press cabin of Air Force One just before the plane landed at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington. The president sounded optimistic about getting Senate ratification of a new U.S.-Russia nuclear arms treaty during the postelection session of Congress, during which lawmakers try to push through matters before a new Congress convenes.
BBC News | Friday, 16 April 2010 | 08:36 GMT
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has again called on Israel to do more to pursue peace with the Palestinians. She urged Israel to support efforts by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank to strengthen institutions. Mrs Clinton also called on the Palestinians to promote peace by ending incitement and fighting corruption. Jewish settlement construction has caused deep strain in relations between the US and Israel and has hampered efforts to revive peace talks. The secretary of state said supporting the Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas was the best weapon to counter Hamas and other extremists. The US has been trying to launch proximity talks between the two sides. These were knocked off course by an announcement that Israel had approved plans for 1,600 new homes in the East Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo during a visit to Israel by US Vice-President Joe Biden.
The secretary of state called for "bold leadership" on all sides when she spoke at a dinner attended by the ambassadors of Israel and several Arab states. "Prime Minister Netanyahu has embraced the vision of the two-state solution," Mrs Clinton said. "But easing up on access and movement in the West Bank, in response to credible Palestinian security performance, is not sufficient to prove to the Palestinians that this embrace is sincere." "We encourage Israel to continue building momentum toward a comprehensive peace by